Tenn. Doctor Calls Black Patient ‘Aunt Jemima,’ Says It Was a ‘Misspoken Blunder’

WMC Action News 5 screenshot
WMC Action News 5 screenshot

A Memphis, Tenn., woman is still in shock after she says her doctor greeted her by calling her an insulting, racially charged name during a visit on July 11.


Lexi Carter said that Dr. James Turner came up to her in the waiting room and said, “Hi Aunt Jemima,” WMC Action News 5 reports.

“I haven’t slept. I haven’t—I haven’t really been able to deal with this,” Carter said. “It’s just the most horrible feeling, really, and I try to understand it and I don’t understand it.

“I was just sitting there waiting to be seen, and he walked in,” Carter added. “He had a young girl, physician’s assistant trainee, a student with him, and he looked at me and he goes, ‘Hi, Aunt Jemima.’”

Carter said that Turner did not apologize at the time, and that he also used the term more than once.

“It was an insult; racial, ethnic insult; a joke. It’s putting me on a level of someone who is subservient with a smile—kind of Stepin Fetchit. It was very derogatory, very demeaning. Especially for someone who prides myself in being none of that,” an obviously shaken Carter said.

Most of us are, at the very least, familiar with the Aunt Jemima brand of breakfast foods that is owned by the Quaker Oats Co. The brand debuted in 1889 and featured as its face a stereotypical image of a black servant woman. The term evolved to become one that is considered demeaning and racist, referencing a servile black woman.


Back in 2014, as WMC notes, Quaker Oats was sued by the descendants of two women the company used to create the brand, but that lawsuit was dismissed in February.

As for the doctor, who had a bad case of putting his foot in his mouth, he issued an apology, acknowledging that he used the term.


The statement read:

Ms. Carter is one of our very dear patients and has been for years. She is one of many African-American patients and I count it a privilege to be their doctor. Anything I said that tarnishes that image and my respect for her was a misspoken blunder on my part and was not intended to show disrespect for Ms. Carter. I am very sorry for that misunderstanding.


However, Carter feels that it’s a little too late, and says she plans to file a formal complaint with the state medical board.

Read more at WMC Action News 5.

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