Interview with Toni Johnson-Chavis
QUESTION 13
JACKIE SHEARER:

When you were a medical student, as a Black woman, did you ever feel that people were considering you as less qualified than the next medical student, the medical student next to you who happened to be White?

TONI JOHNSON-CHAVIS:

I certainly feel that the majority of people think that affirmative action means that there's a selection of people who are less qualified. And I am sure that people viewed that I was less qualified. Whether it was the students in the class with me, whether it was the professors who were sitting there, or whether there are people in general, um, that even has to do with my practice in medicine now. I'm pretty sure the patients who ah, people who see think that the average Black physician is in some way less qualified as someone else. So that is something the daily, that I deal with. I don't worry about it. And it, that was something that probably even occurred then. Um, it's very important for people to have very good self esteem and self-confidence. And unfortunately, this day and time, if you happen to be a lady, or if you happen to be minority, you are going to have to daily deal with the fact that people are going to think that for some reason you're less qualified. And why are you in the position that you're in? So it requires a lot of self-confidence--

JACKIE SHEARER:

OK, I'm sorry. We've rolled out.




JACKIE SHEARER:

So it's 1977. You're on your way to becoming a physician. Did you feel that as a Black woman others didn't take you seriously?

TONI JOHNSON-CHAVIS:

1977, um, in m- I was in medical school at that time, just about to finish, and I was positive that my fellow students and other people did not take me seriously in terms of wanting to be a physician. I was just about through with the curriculum at that particular time. I also felt that they did not, um, think that I had all the qualifications that were necessary, that in fact, because of affirmative action and the selection of Black students that are coming in, that we were in some w- we were somewhat different, um, and inferior as compared to the other students. I don't think that that's the case at all in terms of, um, what was going on. Again, as I stated earlier about my, um, experience at Stanford in undergraduate school, there were the same tests. There were the same, um, objectives that we had to meet. The same criteria, um, and we did those. And I had no problems in medical school doing that. But I'm pretty sure that, that, ah, there was a lot of racism and sexism that went in. And people really honestly had no idea of what my background was or the other minority students' background was. And it's of interest that they would have those feelings, but never actually got close enough to really verbalize those feelings or really ask you anything about what your background really was.