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nightengalesknd

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Jan. 22nd, 2017 08:45 pm

Diversity

[personal profile] nightengalesknd
When I first interviewed for my current job, I asked something along the lines of, “So I know this is a pretty diverse city – how much of that is reflected in the patient population in your practice?”

I was fishing for some sense of whether the practice was mainly caring for white, affluent children of 2 PhD families from the suburbs.

“Actually,” I was told, “the city really isn’t very diverse.”

Oh. Well, he lived and worked there. I didn’t.

So I wasn’t sure what to expect until I moved here.

Now I’m trying to figure out what criteria he was using. Or what criteria I should be using. Because I have lived and worked in a number of places and this seems like one of the more diverse, really.

Some days I walk to work. It’s nearly a mile south, past large houses with iron fences, manicured shrubbery and flagstone paths leading up to stairs. I pass people walking dogs and jogging with babies. The sidewalks are uneven, and in winter, inconsistently shoveled. I saw a Clinton/Pence sign in at least one yard.

There is a synagogue across the street from where I work. It is the closest I have ever lived or worked to a synagogue.

The neighborhood where I work was apparently 40% Jewish at the last census. Two more blocks south I wait for a bus. Girls in long dark skirts pass me as their orthodox school lets out. There is a Jewish Community Center across the street.

Another half block and a man holds up a cardboard sign asking for money.

Back home, I walk three blocks north to the store. There is a Catholic church on the way, and an Episcopal one across the street from it. This is also the closest I’ve ever lived or worked to a church.

I press the button at the intersection and a cheerful voice tells me to wait to cross. The sidewalks here are a bit more even, with more reliable curb cuts.

I’m not the only white face in the grocery store but close to it. I’ve crossed into another neighborhood, one that is largely African-American. There are issues about gentrification I do not completely understand as a recent transplant. I should probably read more. Someone makes a phone call in Spanish from the soup aisle. Two little blond children run ahead of their mother, talking in Swedish.

On the bus again, I hear Mandarin, then Spanish, then a language I cannot identify. Farsi? The bus kneels and deploys the wheelchair lift. People move without comment.

At work, I care for the white children of 2 PhD families from the suburbs and also the children of refugees resettled here. Some days our practice better reflects the diversity of the area than others. Of course, our area includes not just the city but the nearby suburbs and some not-nearby rural areas and towns that thrived back when coal mining was still an industry.

There are certainly cities with a higher percentage of residents from nationally underrepresented minorities, which makes some of them actually less diverse than others. One person is not diverse. Diversity is among all of us.

I attended a protest yesterday.

There were two held in the city at the same time, one women’s march and another one focused on intersectionality which arose when questions arose about the lack of diversity and inclusivity of the original one. It was organized by Black community activists. I found out about it through the local Autistic activist community, which has a not-insignificant overlap with the local LGBTQA+ activist community.

I wore a pin from my medical school’s diversity office, “All shapes, all sizes, all colors, all special,” a pin saying “Health Care for All,” a pin for our local Autistic advocacy group and a peace pin which had been my mother’s in the 1960s.

She now wears a “Dissent is Patriotic” pin, as well as one of my “all special” ones.

I’m not a fan of “special” as a euphemism for disabled, or to imply that some people are more special than others. But even though it is a little cutesy, I’m OK with proclaiming that all people are special. I’m a pediatrician. I can be a little cutesy on occasion.

The local media notes the rally started with a prayer. It doesn’t mention that the prayer was from the West African tradition, including call and response I believe was in Yoruba, and including the burning of sage and the offering of honey and rum.

I did see several people in clerical collars in the crowd.

Also signs in Arabic and Hebrew. I don’t know what they said.

Someone spoke in Spanish. Someone else interpreted her speech into English. Which was then re-interpreted into ASL.

There were the usual signs. If you’ve been to a protest or seen pictures from the march in DC or any of the others, you know the usual slogans. I did like “I’m with her” with arrows in every which direction.

But the two I liked the most had local flavor

“Pittsburgh is an immigrant town. We build bridges. We don’t tear them down”

And, on a red shirt with a picture of Mister Rogers’ trolley, “I will be your neighbor.”
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