Doctor: Calling black patient 'Aunt Jemima' was a 'misspoken blunder'

Doctor: Calling black patient 'Aunt Jemima' was 'a misspoken blunder'
Published: Jul. 13, 2017 at 4:52 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2017 at 6:17 PM CDT
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Aunt Jemima logos used by Quaker Oats Company. (Source: Quaker Oats Company)
Aunt Jemima logos used by Quaker Oats Company. (Source: Quaker Oats Company)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis woman said her doctor greeted her with an insulting racial term during her visit on July 11.

Lexi Carter said her doctor, Dr. James Turner, came into the room and said, "Hi Aunt Jemima."

"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 said. "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 the doctor did not apologize for the remark at the time. She also said he 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 step and fetch it. It was very derogatory, very demeaning. Especially for someone who prides myself in being none of that," Carter said.

Aunt Jemima is a brand of breakfast foods owned by the Quaker Oats Company. It debuted in 1889 with a stereotypical image of an African-American servant woman.

Quaker Oats was sued in 2014 by the descendants of two women the company used to create their Aunt Jemima brand. The lawsuit was dismissed in February.

The term Aunt Jemima is considered derogatory, demeaning, and racist as it refers to a servile acting black woman who works as a nanny/housekeeper for whites.

WMC Action News 5 reached out to the doctor accused of using the derogatory term. He admitted that he used the term, but said he immediately apologized to Carter.

"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." - Dr. James Turner

Carter said the apology comes a little too late and she plans on filing a formal complaint with the state medical board.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.