Thursday, July 24, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by with 0 comment

Call Me Doctor

It is about titles... and respect

Yes, We Rise| Call me Doctor
I received an email from a student in my online course and the salutation in the email touched a nerve. THERE wasn't any, just my first name

(So Headley). 

I used to think that I was being overly sensitive about the lack of respect that many professionals of color and women are subjected to on a daily basis. Unless I have given you permission or you happen to have known me for a long time, I expect you to call me Dr. White. I give everyone that I meet in professional situations, their due respect: Doctor, Mister, Misses, Miss etc. I have noticed that I have called people Mr. or Ms. and while I'll be wearing a name tag which clearly says Dr. Headley White... they say so Headley....

If I called you by your title the least that you can do is to return the favor.

I have found I'm not alone. Several prominent, degreed experts in their field have been addressed by their first name while their white counterparts are addressed as Dr. This has happened on national TV programming. The comfort that many have with this type of communication smacks of disrespect to me. My wife has often stated that I look at everything through the lens of history but I feel that it is the true test of how far we've come. These microaggressions tend to grate my nerves; there are many reasons for this.

Yes, We Rise| Call me DoctorThis reinforces the difference that race or sex have to do with titles. I've heard Instructors without PHD's or EDD's called Dr. I've been called Mr. by my students after they've been in my class for weeks. I have anecdotal evidence that it happens to minorities more often than not.

While this may not seem important outside the school settings =- it exposes a bigger problems, Many of my minority students have approached me after classes and in other settings and have wondered if I'm offended by this slight- I am.

I remember the title of BOY & GAL that were given to grown black men and women by white communities in the rural South and the less savory names that were also used. Many of the millennial students are lazy, but there is a segment that carries the belief that certain people need not have any title (earned or not). This is compounded by the use of derogatory terms by entertainers (Rappers, Actors, Social Media).

Yes, We Rise| Call me Doctor

I am somewhat disappointed that in 2014, this topic is even relevant. I have to remind my son that any adult is Mr. or Ms. even if they say you can call them by their first name (shudder). I also remind any young man or lady the importance of using the correct title. If we are to make headway in this country in regards to the treatment of others and ourselves we need to start with the correct use of titles and the modicum of respect that comes with it.


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