The recent operation on my neck was performed by Dr. Chiedozie I. Nwagwu, Neurosurgeon. He goes by the first named of Ched, and his last name is pronounced Wa-goo. The only negative comments I could find about him were how far behind his office appointments run. Once I got to know him, I realized why. He takes time with each of his patients. He is very thorough and explains everything in a manner that makes you feel you are the one patient he really cares about. He will push aside the clock for you if need be. I decided I could handle the wait.
The other doctor I had seen much earlier was the head of neurosurgery at U.C.L.A. His reputation was stellar, his appointments were on time, but I felt like I was on an assembly line with him.
When Dr. Nwagwu first walked into his office and I saw he was a black man, I was surprised. I definitely noticed his race, and feelings of prejudice threatened to get my attention, but his dignified manner, personal attention and positive attitude were what stood out to me, not his color. I love the man now, and his quick reaction to an unforeseeable setback in the original surgery saved me from major paralysis.
What does this have to do with race relations in America? Well, something, I hope. In a must-hear interview on BlogTalkRadio last night, Doug Stevens suggested that the way to improve race relations in America is to have one. Have a relationship with someone of a different race, color, ethnicity or religion. Personal relationships are the only way we can make a difference, and be a difference, as a relationship changes you.
But most races are not in the same circles — not in our neighborhoods, and not even in our schools and churches. Well, that means we have to be intentional about this. We have to be vulnerable. We have to take risks. We will have to cross invisible barriers. As Doug said, this isn’t about tolerance. Tolerance is weak. We’re not doing this with the intention of tolerating one another. Our goal is to know each other, respect each other and mostly, love each other.
I told Dr. Nwagwu that if and when I get my ability to play my guitar back, I owed him a free house concert. He reminds me about this whenever I see him because he’s not forgetting it. And neither am I.