One aspect to my relocation to California I haven’t been able to overcome is the diversity. Sure, it’s a great thing that people from all walks of life can find a home here. It’s a wonderful place, and I don’t blame them for wanting to be here. However, as an English-only speaker, it’s very difficult to relay certain key pieces of information.
An area in particular where this is important is in medicine. I see a psych doctor who prescribes me medicine to treat my Major Depressive Disorder. The problem is that he understands very little English, and trying to portray relevant medical information is near impossible. I mean, the guy doesn’t even understand what “flipping the bird” is until I actually give it to him.
Today, I went to my new Primary Care Physician’s office and met the staff, in addition to receiving a checkup. Although, like most people, I do not like going to the doctor, I push myself to do it. However, when I have to explain my medical history to someone who, again, doesn’t speak the same language as me, I become incredibly agitated.
Don’t get me wrong: I understand that cultural diversity means I need to try to bridge the gap on my end. After all, they at least took the time to learn some English, whereas I only know what food items are called. But having lived in the south for the majority of my life, cultural diversity is not something I was brought up with. Sure, there were blacks. But the racist white people seemed to keep them in a corner with a dunce cap. It’s quite unfair how the bigotry there affects so many minorities and protects white privilege.
Asians are a new demographic I haven’t had much experience with. Outside of constantly hearing jokes about their driving (which I have come to realize is a completely true stereotype), I know nothing about them that cannot be found at an all you can eat buffet. At least with the Latin community, I can take what I learned growing up in Texas and apply some of it. I can toss in some Spanglish and get an idea of what the hell they may be saying to me. But I don’t know any languages from the Orient. Unfortunately watching all that anime as a teen didn’t help. I suppose I need to learn.
I guess the advantage here is that he couldn’t tell me how fat I was, or tell me to lay off the damn sodas. Maybe it’s for the best. All in all, my only wish is that I could find someone whose first language is the same as mine to be my practitioner. Does that make me racist? I hope not.
For your enjoyment, here is an actual plaque for a doctor’s office in Nashville, Tennessee I “vandalized”.