• Missy Mills

Covert Racism

Good things come to those who wait! I should have waited for the late May dental appointment that was a lot closer to home. I'm always precise when it comes to Eden's teeth and didn't want to wait that long. We took the 35/40 minute drive out to Pediatrics Dentistry of Pittsburgh. They had grand reviews and was also pleasant over the phone.

I have become complacent with being the token black person in the room. Mainly because my plan is always to bring back the info to those that are just as deserving to be included. However, one of us is usually the quota for claiming inclusion. My daughter has Dwarfism as many of you already know. We speak a lot about acceptance, awareness and inclusion. Most advocate groups speak on these things when it comes to whatever they're advocating for. It amazes me how some can advocate for inclusion, acceptance and awareness ...and yet be a racist at heart. For this very reason I have blocked quite a few individuals from our page, stopped following, deleted phone numbers and dismissed so called friendships during these past few months. It's amazing what people can pretend to be. Then act clueless as to why you have removed them. I'm not the one for explanations ...we are all too grown for that. Nevertheless, this is not about medical conditions or pretend friendships. I just needed to say that.

This is about racism. I am in my 40's and have experienced racism indirectly. That alone has affected and shaped me in many ways. Yet, I personally have never experienced direct racism until this past Monday. That is saying a lot considering that I have spent most of my years in the good old racist south. I have witnessed a lot and heard about much more. The stories are endless. Today I'm adding my story to the list.. I just don't understand what a person gets out of being filled with hate. How do you walk around carrying such a heavy burden! I'm going to keep this short because writing about it for me is acknowledging what has happened and also letting go of the feelings tied to it. It's my therapy.

We get to Eden's appointment (on time) and call the office to let them know we are there as instructed. They want to make sure social distancing is being practiced. The lady that answered told us to go in and to go up to the window to check in.

I go up to the window and I'm standing there for about a minute before I'm acknowledged. It felt weird but I brushed it off as maybe their just busy. I usually go with my gut. However, with such sensitive timing ...I didn't want to be right yet again The Rep who greeted us was very nonchalant and said ...did you call? I told her yes and also that the lady had told us to come in and go to the window. She cut me off and said ...well you can wait over there and someone will be with you. I looked at Eden and said “let's wait.” She's always my first concern. Even with the woman’s mood being a second flag ...I wanted to get Eden’s teeth examined and cleaned. We were already overdue because of covid and I didn't want to wait any longer. We had waited for 20 minutes when in walks a lady with her two children. She goes right up to the window and is greeted warmly. Her children are soon called to the back. I wasn't greeted properly or asked for anything and had been completely ignored (unknowingly) up until this point. I'm right next to the window in sight so clearly we are seen sitting there all this time. I start texting Marlon because he's my voice of reasoning. I’m also aware that there is only one dentist and Eden should have went back before the other children. These people weren't there more than a few minutes before they were called to the back. As I texted Marlon in walks another family. They were new to the office just like us. Again, this family was greeted warmly. The same woman asked for their paperwork and insurance card. She made sure the kids had something they wanted to watch on TV etc. Went out of her way making them feel welcomed and comfortable. The woman asked the father had he called. She was okay with whatever reason he gave for not calling. As they sent yet another child to the back ahead of us. I'm watching in disbelief and preparing what I'm about to say in my mind because my child is watching me. It's very important how I conduct myself in her presence. I don't want her to see me angry and I know she wouldn't understand the reasoning. Racism is not something she should have to process. Marlon walked in as I continued to text him about the situation. The fact that I was not alone in that scenario became the center of attention. The lady looked in all directions of the offices and said (as if she didn't know) “has everyone been helped.” Marlon responded, “my wife and child has been waiting for awhile.” She then called me up to the window and asked if I had my paperwork. She couldn't hide the way she felt if she wanted to. She avoided eye contact and kept the same nonchalant demeanor she had greeted me with. I reluctantly handed her the paperwork and asked how much longer would we have to wait? She told me she didn't know without ever looking my way. Her entire demeanor was just nasty. At that point I'm for certain what had happened to us. I then asked for my paperwork back. I am not staying any place where we are apparently not welcomed. She simply said ...does that mean you are leaving? Even knowingly so. I refused to match her behavior and decided to just say yes and be on our way. She hands me the papers without looking at me and turns right back around. I'm sure she didn't ask why because she knew exactly why and didn't care.

We proceeded to leave out the building and got back into our vehicle. As I buckled Eden into her carseat …I noticed two ladies approaching us from the building. They asked if they could speak with me for a moment. Without any clarification on my end …they apologized for whatever they were told was our reason for leaving. They called it a misunderstanding and passed the blame to the original person that we spoke to on arrival. However, the person that took our call on arrival had nothing to do with what took place in that office. Absolutely no excuse can justify the behavior of that woman or how we were ignored that day. It had nothing to do with the Rep not letting them know we were coming in. Even if she didn't let them know, I let them know and they were more than aware of our presence and is waiting. It was outright racism ...pure hatred for what we looked like. The two ladies continued to apologize and promised to take us straight to the back to be taking care of. I asked Eden if she wanted to stay and get her teeth cleaned ...she said yes. All of us walked back together as the apologies continued. Eden was treated extremely well by both the Assistant and the Dentist. They both apologized countless times for what was called a mistake. I'm sure they where doing their job by attempting to make it right. Regardless, I knew that we would never return to that place. The same prude of a woman that first greeted us refused to look my way at checkout time. She sat there unmoved and tight faced. I stared right in the prude’s direction until someone else finally noticed me waiting and came over to help. What a total waste of emotions and energy to allow yourself to behave in such a way. I had already decided that she wasn't worth that type of energy being returned. Not in front of my child. My child was going to leave feeling just as gleeful as the rest of the children. She deserved that!

On a brighter note …Eden got a great report once again. The dentist was impressed with her teeth. Can I shout A+ 😁😁😁 That alone was enough for me to smile about. Thank GOD this child has humbled me. She is always my first thought before reacting to anything. I'm just glad she is not aware of what took place at that dentist office. Good riddance to Pediatric Dentistry of Pittsburgh. #pediatricdentistryofpittsburgh

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