White Doctor Greets Black Patient with ‘Hi, Aunt Jemima’ During Visit

“He had a young girl, physician's assistant trainee, a student with him and he looked at me and he goes, ‘Hi Aunt Jemima,’” said Lexi Carter.


A Memphis woman was left shell-shocked and appalled after her long-time doctor reportedly called her “Aunt Jemima” at an appointment.

Lexi Carter, who is black, claimed she was visiting dermatologist Dr. James Turner, who is white, for an examination on July 11 when he entered with a trainee and threw the derogatory term at her.

“I was just sitting there waiting to be seen and he walked in," Carter told local NBC affiliate WMC. “He had a young girl, physician's assistant trainee, a student with him and he looked at me and he goes, ‘Hi Aunt Jemima.’”

“Aunt Jemima” is a brand of pancake mix by the Quaker Oats company that debuted in 1889 and features a “mammy” — a southern United States archetype for a black woman who worked as a nanny or nurse for white people’s children while their own children went neglected, according to Roots. Its origins come from a time when white performers blackened their faces with soot and portrayed black women as loudmouthed, crude, masculine, ugly and undeserving of the protection afforded to white women.

Carter was understandably upset by the racist incident.

“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 added. “I’m trying to understand it. I don’t understand it.”

What’s more, she said the doctor, far from apologizing, kept repeatedly calling her “Aunt Jemima.”

“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 later issued a statement apologizing for his disgusting remarks.

“Ms. Carter is one of our very dear patients and has been for years,” the statement said. “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.”

However, his apology is small comfort to Carter, who now plans to file a complaint against him with the Tennessee medical board.






Banner/thumbnail credit: Wikimedia Commons, Jemima’s Wedding Day 

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