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Published on Friday, June 23, 2017

Woman's racist rant prompts doctor leader's response

Local physician responds after Georgetown singled out in viral racist video

Woman's racist rant prompts doctor leader's response
Dr. Nadia Alam
File photo of Georgetown family physician and newly minted president-elect of the OMA, Nadia Alam. — Richard J. Brennan/Torstar Network
By Graeme Frisque, Independent Free Press

A viral YouTube video of a woman at a Mississauga walk-in clinic demanding a “white doctor” has been making its way around news outlets and social media.

The woman attended the hospital seeking diagnosis and treatment of her son’s reported chest pain.

"Oh my god, what type of horrible country do I live in?" she says. "Being white in this country, I should just shoot myself," says the woman in the video.

In the video, she continues to demand a "white" doctor who “speaks English” and was “born in Canada.”

"My kid's at least part not-white, so can we get someone to see him that at least speaks English?" shouted the woman, as others in the waiting area called her out for her racist behaviour and verbiage.

At one point during her blatantly racist rant the recptionist makes a very specific reference to Georgetown, suggesting the woman seek the racially-based service she desires in the Halton Hills community.

"I'm not going there with all those P*ki doctors, and I don't have money to go Georgetown," she replies in the video recorded by a bystander.

The curious reference has at least one prominent Georgetown doctor wondering what she's talking about.

“I’ve seen this kind of incident before, but not in Georgetown. I’m lucky in Georgetown because it’s a lovely place and the community has welcomed me. I’ve never felt belittled or devalued in any way,” said Dr. Nadia Alam, a family physician in Georgetown and person of colour herself.

Alam, who is the newly minted president-elect of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), said she has seen and experienced similar racist behaviour while working in larger population centres like Mississauga, Toronto and Ottawa.

“You do run across it there. I’ve had a patient refuse care from me because of my skin colour. And then they accepted care from me once they heard me speak because they said ‘Oh, you don’t have an accent, so you’re OK,” said Alam.

“When it does happen, you kind of feel like a deer in headlights. You freeze and a part of you starts denying it right away. Because this isn’t Canadian, this is not how we see our society,” added Alam when asked why these types of incidents aren’t more heavily reported.

“When you see a video like this, you can’t go into denial anymore. And when you start hearing from other doctors about their experiences, you can’t ignore it anymore. The you start realizing that it’s not just me that this happens to; it happens to other people and we have to do something about it,” she said.

Alam also believes the divisive and often racially-charged rhetoric coming from south of the border and the current U.S. administration under Donald Trump is contributing to racist-minded people increasingly and outwardly expressing those feelings in more public settings.

“I think Trump coming into power has opened the door to make it more acceptable to behave this way, to behave in all sorts of discriminatory ways. Not just racism, but also discriminating against women, discriminating against refugees, discriminating against all sorts of ‘other’ people,” she said.

“There’s become this false division that’s been created by Trump and his behaviour and him being in a leadership position of ‘us vs. them’. And that scares me because that’s not really what we should accept as a community. That’s not the standard we should strive for, not just as a medical community but as a community of human beings,” added Alam. “At the end of day, we’re all human beings and so much more than our skin.”

Getting back to the reference to the Georgetown reference in the viral video, Alam has no idea why Georgetown would be single out as an example of a place where that kind of request or behaviour is tolerated.

“I have not seen that. I know lots of physicians in Georgetown who are of a visible minority They work in the hospital, outside the hospital; some of them have accents, some of them don’t, and none of them have described this sense of being questioned or attacked in Georgetown.”

“It’s not happened, I’ve not seen it and I’ve not heard about anything like that from the Georgetown physicians,” said Alam.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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