I came out to my dermatologist as biracial because she greeted me by saying: "Wow. Did you change your eyes? What color are they?"
"They're blue--green--gray--They are different colors depending on light and mood and . . ."
"I don't remember your eyes like that."
Granted, I've only seen her once a year for the last four years --and last year she was on maternity leave so I saw her colleague instead. But still--really? She didn't see that my eyes are very light on a beige-colored person? It's usually the first thing people notice about me.
She checked out the "mole" in question and gave me a referral in case I want to have it removed in a way that won't leave a giant scar--it's nothing to worry about. She's a nice woman and a doctor with a good bedside manner, but her greeting really threw me? Was she really seeing me?
I was nearly out the door when I asked if I could talk to the doctor again -- She was talking to a pharmaceutical rep but led me back into the examining room when I told her I had a question and I said: "I hope you don't think this is stupid. But I thought it was important to tell you that I am biracial. I am both black and white. I'm not sure what you maybe thought I was--but I just wanted to let you know . . . in case, well, in case, you need to look at me differently."
My voice felt strangely shakey but I got it all out. "I don't think this makes a difference, but I wanted to make sure you knew, and that you were seeing me."
She was very kind and assured me it wasn't a stupid question, but really, there wasn't a difference in the way that she examined patients because of race. She talked a little bit about the different types of skin cancer and that melanoma was equal opportunity--that was what Bob Marley died of.
"He was biracial," I said.
"I didn't know," she responded.
Anyway, I'm glad I told her--and not that it mattered at all in terms of what matters to her as a physician--but I think I became more human. I think she won't be so shocked by my eyes next year.