When Black Psychiatrists Reach Teenage Color

As noon approached on that recent Tuesday, Dr. Stallworth told the group about her exam with a black middle school student with ADHD. In the spring he was bullied by gangs at school. He switched schools this fall, and now, Dr. Stallworth said, he’s happy — playing soccer, making friends and, according to his mother, coming home and doing his homework.

“He smiled, which was the first time I saw him,” Dr. Stallworth said. “There was a sweet little baby there today. I saw it. It was very nice.

Dr. Lewis spoke. “Dr. Stallworth, I know you have a lot of difficult cases,” he said. “I want you to remember this.”

All doctors on the clinic team have faced racism. Dr. Lewis grew up in an upper-middle-class family in Parkland, Fla., among few black peers, with white friends who called him “Oreo,” he said: “Black on the outside, white on the inside, not really black.” In his high school band, it was a tradition for an underclassman to present a prize to each graduating senior. Dr. Lewis was given a watermelon, “that’s what black people eat,” he recalled.

Dr. Vinson described an encounter at her first job, a large hospital in Atlanta, when an older, white social worker told her she “felt unsafe” in a meeting with her, she said.

“I’m a five-foot-two woman who has never raised my voice with you, never used profanity, and certainly never threatened you,” Dr. Vinson replied. “‘You feel insecure with me – that calls me angry black women.

The fourth member of the group, Dr. Joshua Omade grew up in a middle-class family in Bowie, MD. He played rugby and football in high school and was big for his age. Once, in a mall, a police officer stopped him and asked, “Why are you here?” He recalled. He waited for his mother to finish shopping.

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