Black Tennessee woman says white doctor greeted her as ‘Aunt Jemima’
A Memphis, TN woman was appalled and hurt to be greeted by her white physician as “Aunt Jemima” at a recent appointment — the caricatured “mammy” figure the Quaker Oats company uses to sell pancake mix and syrups.
The New York Daily News said that Lexi Carter was at an appointment with her longtime dermatologist Dr. James Turner on July 11 when he entered the room with a young female trainee and said, “Hi, Aunt Jemima.”
“I haven’t slept. I haven’t — I haven’t really been able to deal with this,” Carter told WMC Channel 5.
“This is the most horrible feeling, really,” she said. “I’m trying to understand it. I don’t understand it.”
Not only did Turner not apologize, Carter told WMC, he used the term repeatedly.
“It was an insult, racial ethnic insult, a joke. It’s putting me on a level of someone who is subservient with a smile–kind of step and fetch it. It was very derogatory, very demeaning. Especially for someone who prides myself in being none of that,” Carter said.
Turner’s office issued a statement apologizing for the offensive remark that said, “Ms. Carter is one of our very dear patients and has been for years. She is one of many African American patients and I count it a privilege to be their doctor. Anything I said that tarnishes that image and my respect for her was a misspoken blunder on my part and was not intended to show disrespect for Ms. Carter. I am very sorry for that misunderstanding.”
The Aunt Jemima emblem is an example of the “mammy” stereotype, which, as The Root said, “painted over the ways in which black mothers were forced to raise and nurture white children to the detriment of their own families.”
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