Quick Hit: The most racist thing that ever happened to me

At The Atlantic, Touré asked a number of prominent African Americans about the most racist thing that ever happened to them. Skip Gates, the Harvard professor whose 2009 arrest led to the famous “beer summit” at the White House, tells a stunning story about how dominant perceptions about a Black person’s “proper place” led to lifelong medical complications:

In 1964, in West Virginia a fourteen-year-old Henry Louis Gates Jr. broke his hip and went to a doctor who x‑rayed his knee, which was also in pain. The doctor saw nothing wrong with his knee and deemed his pain psychosomatic. “He said that I had a nervous breakdown because I was an overachiever,” Gates said. “He said colored people weren’t supposed to do as well as I had done. I had been stressed out and there was nothing wrong with my knee. White guy thought I was imagining things. And that’s why I walk with a cane and I’ve had a dozen operations since I was fourteen.” Gates remains bitter about the whole thing. “I hope that motherfucker’s burning in hell.”

It’s a must-read, and you can read the rest here.

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One Comment

  1. Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Excellent article. I can remember my first “wakeup moment” though in my case, it was as a white girl growing up as a minority in Japan. My second was as a woman in the military–I had never realized the level of assumption that comes with being female.

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