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The Tee-Shirt Version:

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

I wore this t-shirt for two days in a row - not because I never made it home (my 20s) or because I was so busy with two small children (my 30s), but because it is quarantine and I don't get dressed up right now to go anywhere (my 50s).

On a Zoom call yesterday, it was a topic of discussion during a team meeting for a racial justice project...two other women owned a garment with this same phrase. I wore this t-shirt today to my annual wellness appointment. The appointment was at 8:15am and a 35 minute drive in no traffic to the doctor’s office. It is COVID...and it is cold in Atlanta. I cannot spend time figuring out what to wear outside of workout clothes, which are now called athleisure wear...smdh. So, I put this t-shirt on at 7:15am, and left my home soon thereafter. This is the earliest I have left my home in a very long time. It has been a week. Whew…

Oh, and let me tell you about the doctor and my God. I am a member of a healthcare network that boasts to be the largest in the metro-Atlanta area. I primarily see providers who are of African descent. It is my option and my preference. The only issue is that this healthcare network has very few family practice physicians who meet this criteria and even less that are accepting new patients. I called in November and was given an appointment on a Wednesday in January, initially. Then the office called me back only to tell me that due to COVID, the physician is only in the office on Mondays and Fridays. My appointment was rescheduled. Stay with all is relevant...It was rescheduled to March! MARCH! I took the appointment because she was the third provider I had called and the only one taking new patients...and the office is 24 miles from my home. I never took that original appointment off my calendar. I called Tuesday afternoon to confirm and was told that I wasn't on the schedule, but someone had just cancelled for Friday at 8:15am. This is how I ended up at the doctor today. Believe me, all of this backstory has a purpose…

As the physician’s assistant is about to take my weight, I take off my shoes, my scarf and my jacket and I jokingly say that these items weigh 10 pounds themselves. We laugh as I am escorted into a room. Underneath my jacket is the t-shirt which becomes a topic of discussion as she takes my health history. My physician walks in and after greeting me, she proclaims, “oh yeah, I love that shirt.” As I chuckle and tell her where I found it (on Etsy), she shares that the PA told her that she had to see my shirt. We talk about racism in medicine and health inequities and HBCUs and parenting and my overall health (which is great, thank God). It was like a discussion with an old friend that you just met and she happens to know a lot about the body and medicine (which are two different things). It was a wonderful visit with my new doctor. As we are ending, she tells me she is ordering labs (and the t-shirt) and that the phlebotomist will come in to escort me to the lab and draw my blood. Then the phlebotomist comes in. This is the real part of the story and I probably could have left out all of the other pieces, but I haven't written anything in so long, and it all is relevant…

I am escorted across the hall to the lab, where I am asked to sit down and my arm is prepped for drawing blood. As she is verifying the paperwork, she asks how to pronounce my name. I enunciate the two syllables slowly and clearly “CRICH-LOW.” I have lived with this name almost 55 years and I realize that it looks a lot harder to say than it actually is. The phlebotomist mentions that she has never heard that name before...that it is different. I respond that it is a Scottish name, that the enslaver was from Scotland. Her response: “Really!” Me: “Yes, my father is originally from Barbados and his great grandmother was the concubine of the Scottish enslaver who owned the plantation my ancestors lived on.” Her response: “Oh, that’s ok.” I reply that it is not, but it is history and our responsibility to acknowledge it.

She shares that her family has done extensive familial research and their name is Grant and Walker. I share that it is wonderful that they know their lineage. I also remind her that is the name of the enslaver who owned the plantation her ancestors lived on. I assure her it is okay that we don’t know our African names, but that we know who we are as people of African descent. That is part of our lineage...our royal and noble lineage. But assurance is no longer important to her now; getting me out of her lab is.

In retrospect, I should have waited because when she extracted that syringe, it hurt more than when she inserted it. I notice that she is looking around her work area, probably wondering why we are having this conversation and looking very uncomfortable by the conversation I have engaged her in among her white co-workers. You know that way when someone is hurriedly wanting to end a conversation? That is where she and I found ourselves by the end of the blood draw; with her wanting to shoo me out of there...and that is okay because I AM black mixed with black... I love y'all... #ancestral #ancestors #ancestorsspeak #blackmixedwithblack


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