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Alright, #medtwitter. Time for your #SundayService.

My residency program accepted two new trainees a year. In 2011, one was a blond, blue-eyed, corn-fed son of the Midwest.

The other was me.
We were always treated differently, and it was never more clear than in how we were perceived when we struggled.

He was always given the benefit of the doubt, encouraged that training was hard sometimes but he'd get through it.

Support was always there for him.
What I received was silence.
And whispers, so soft that I would mistake them for voices in my own head:
'Lazy' 'Unprepared' 'Unfocused'
'Do you think he's hungover?'
'He was probably up all night getting lucky'
None of this was ever said to my face.

I felt it in the weight of the silence that would fall when I entered a room, or turned a corner.

I wanted to believe I was just imagining things, but when I saw my co-resident's experience I knew...
I was being treated carelessly.

And always silently.

Just as I'd been treated multiple times over the years when I was at the mercy of white people who'd been tasked with helping me succeed.
I recently saw my old co-resident. We are both grown doctors now.
We began reminiscing and I intimated that I'd always been made to feel like an outsider who was 'less than' during training.

He took a deep breath and said, "You're right. You were."
He went on, "I was in the room when they'd talk about you, and they'd say all of that awful stuff. I knew it wasn't right.
I knew it was racist.
But I didn't say anything because I was scared that they'd take it out on me.
So I didn't stand up to them.
And I'm so sorry."
There was real pain in his eyes as he told me. This was a shameful burden he'd been carrying for nearly a decade. And he had always feared my response.

I felt no relief, no vindication.
I felt a sense of duty.
So I told him:
"I forgive you. And now you're going to make it up to me by letting go of that guilt. Guilt is neither a strong, nor sustainable foundation for meaningful change. Own your flaws and mistakes and use them to do better.
"You're a white man in a position of power in this society, with the knowledge that you benefit from certain systems at the expense of other people. You can change those systems. And you can do it from within the rooms that don't grant access to folks who look like me.
"More importantly, you're a father to two boys who will grow up to be white men in a society that prioritizes their interests and existences over millions of others. You are the one who will show them the ways in which they can courageously challenge the status quo.
"And you will do that through the things you say and don't say, the things you do and don't do.

So stand up. Use your voice. Be prepared to battle the fragility of your peers, but know that you, and your kids, will know that you were on the right side of this fight."
Transforming my pain into advocacy has been a difficult process.
Teaching white people how to reckon with their culpability in inequality, has been a part of that.
I don't love it, but I know it's necessary for the ones who follow.
I hope you'll join me.

And that's my sermon.
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