About the Author

Michelle Reyes, Ph.D., is an Indian American pastor’s wife, writer, and activist. She is the Vice President of the Asian American Christian Collaborative and writes regularly on faith, culture, and justice. Michelle lives in Austin, TX with her husband and two kids. Follow her on IG @michelleamireyes.

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  1. Michelle,
    I’m so sorry. I can only imagine the horror of having to be on the receiving end of the doctor’s (any many others’) stinging comments. Before starting a school in the Middle East, God brought me face to face with my own prejudice and ethnic profiling. I don’t know why our first instinct is to fear, rather than embrace, those who are different from us. God has taught me so many lessons through getting to know my brothers and sisters in Christ on a genuine, heart-to-heart basis. I have been challenged in my faith as I see what it’s like to live a persecuted life – to literally fear for your life everyday because you are a Christian in a culture that calls you “the unclean ones”. Before we judge, we really need to “walk a mile in another man’s/woman’s shoes.” Thank you for giving me a glimpse of what you deal with. I pray that our response would be to want to build bridges built on love in Christ’s name. Thank you for sharing from the heart…and the reminder that God made us, sees us, and loves us for the beautiful person He created!
    Bev xx

    • Oh Michelle. I am so sorry. This grieves my heart that you and thousands of others are treated like this. I know the “privelge” of being white and often I wonder why
      But I am so so grateful that you know how precious and beloved you are to Our Lord. He knows you. He created you. And you are His beloved beautiful daughter. Never forget that. Again, I am so sorry for all the discrimination you and all others have experienced.

      • Amen! Thank you, Missy, for your words. Part of what it means to have privilege is to not have to think about your skin color from day to day. The color of my skin is an ever present reality wherever I go – and wondering how people are going to treat me. I’m learning to better prepare for painful moments like this and to cling to Christ for strength and forgiveness.

    • Hi Bev, I’m so grateful that my story has encouraged you and that you understand my message. I agree that we need to see life through other people’s eyes. It would certainly challenge us to approach people of other ethnicities and cultures with greater humility and sensitivity. This is something we can link arms in together!

  2. Michelle, my Southern heart breaks at how you have been treated. I am so sorry. I do not understand why that doctor acted like he did; but sure hope you got help for your son. My closest girlfriend of over 70 years is Chinese & we have had lots of good times together & we sure look different. Please don’t think all white folks are indifferent. I don’t know where you live; but I married a man from the North & they think & act completely different from the way I was raised in FL. So, I am sending you cyber hugs from me to you. God bless!

    • Hi Frances! Yes, thankfully my son did eventually receive medicine. But it took me calling my husband and him coming to the clinic to talk to the doctor. The whole experience was painful and traumatic. But I praise God that he has allowed our family to find forgiveness and healing too. And yes, I completely agree that not all white folks are indifferent. Any person of any ethnicity and culture has to fight the tendency to judge and profile the other. Sensitivity and humility to others is something that we can all grow in! 🙂

  3. Heartbreaking! I’m so sorry you have had to experience the indignity of others’ ignorance–particularly this most recent egregious sin against your son.
    May we all cling to the unique Jesus-hope that we are seen and known, and that while justice is slow to come, he is planning a future kingdom of holiness where we will see and be seen clearly and truly.

    • Amen! And may we keep doing the hard work of advancing Christ’s kingdom BY pursuing justice and equality and solidarity in the here and now. My prayer is that that future reality in Revelation 21 of all peoples, tongues and nations worshiping God as royal priests and as equals will be sought out now. That we, as the body of Christ, will desire to achieve on earth what is in heaven.

  4. You are Beautiful in your photo and you are Beautiful on the inside too! How awful that must have been for you to be treated this way! May you be blessed and treated better ! May your deep wounds heal and you find the hope and grace to move on! I love you as a sister in Christ and wish you better than this! Thank you for your comments! You as strong in Christ and absolutely Beautiful! Just remember that! God bless you! And yours! Love in Him! Lauren

    • Thank you, Lauren! I’m so grateful for your encouragement and support! This is why we share these hard stories at (in)courage because we know that this is a community of women that links arms together and boldly steps forward in love, in truth and in courage into the messy realities of this world.

  5. As a mom of two little boys, reading about your experience brought me to tears. I ache at the thought of that cruel dismissal when you were so concerned about your sweet child. May we not only remember how Christ views us and loves us (His workmanship, His masterpiece, His beloved children) … but may we also all pause and try to see others with God’s eyes. Peace to you and your family.

  6. thankyou for sharing. first I can relate..i was just saying that I get treated different half the year..ok that might sound weird but here’s the thing I have 35 cultures in my family and so in the summer months I go from a very white gal to darker skinned then my closest latin friend ! head to toe I’m very very dark until this changes again over the winter months.
    I get treated differently I notice in the summer months by people in stores and around. they assume I’m whatever culture and treat me much different….( this isn’t in the usa)…
    here’s the thing…i don’t care. God made each of us to be covered in whatever skin color he chose and it’s a beautiful thing !
    from my gaelic very white friends with red hair to my darkest friends with beautiful black hair God made each beautiful !
    I would never compare myself to any one else because I’m happy to be my own creation . even with our 35 cultures that comes with many many different things like blue eyes or green eyes / and various times of skin colors in this family.
    celebrate the beauty that God put in you..the world is bumpy but we were called to be over comers! May God bless you as you celebrate who you are …
    let others make their assumptions because at the end of the day we can look in the mirror and thank God for our uniqueness.

    • Thank you for sharing your story too, Krissy. This is a difficult reality that many bicultural men and women, like myself, struggle with. I too am a bit “lighter” in the winter and “darker” in the summer, and it’s perhaps no surprise that there is an increase in racial profiling and degrees of rejection during these summer months. I’m sorry that you’ve experienced this. It’s wrong. It’s always wrong. Jesus sees you. He knows you, just like he knows me. He never mistakes your identity, and that is a truth we can cling to in any season.

      • thankyou. I have felt it both ways..not accepted for being white and not for being darker ( 4 shades darker in the summer !). I know people mean well but need to be taught better. I think our views start at home.
        praying for that doctor ! I guess what you could take away from that encounter is that people all think differently and that is also where we have the chance to pray for others out of our comfort zone.

  7. I am horrified to hear of what you and your son experienced. Shame on that doctor! My mother is Indian and my father is Australian. I too am Australian and I am brown. One of my children is dark and the other two are white, they are part Maori and New Zealander. My point is we are a mixed bunch and there is complete beauty in that. Racism overt displays like that is NOT ok in any setting. My heart goes out to you honestly it makes me feel sick to think of you experiencing this and from a professional doctor!! You are beautiful and my sister in Christ thank you for sharing your story. There’s so much I want to say but words do not help but God can. Jesus can you and your son and myself and my children are all his masterpieces never forget that! Praying for you tonight for God to give you courage and for these sort of racial sentiments in your country and mine and the rest of the world to stop and be thrown in the gutter where they belong.

    • well.said. there is beauty in different cultures I totally agree. my family is like that too..some dark some very white and some in between! God made it all and each culture has beauty !

    • Hi Jan! Nice to meet another bicultural Indian woman! Yes, I am with you. I hate that these things happen in our country and to me and my children. But I am also trying to use these opportunities to build confidence and strength in my kids too, to use these confrontations as the springboard to talk to my children about the beauty of all peoples and how each are made in the image of God. God has made me and my children with brown skin on purpose and they are beautiful just as they are. I would never wish to have these experiences, but I’m clinging to Christ and praying that my family clings to Christ in the midst of these painful moments too.

  8. You know I have no kids. But I can feel your Pain. It must have been offal for you that day at the Doctors with your son. You have too much like me do what Jesus would want you do. Forgive the Doctor that day and pray for him. I was see someone one time because of my seizures due to me having heavy periods. Which I never have now. As I had operation to fix that. But I wanted to cry at the Doctor and the way he spoke to me that day. He didn’t even say Hello. All he sais was what can I do for you. I thought that day you are the Doctor you know why I am here. I said I will do what Jesus wants me to do be nice too you. But when I finished seeing him I never felt so small. I never felt as though I was not wanted in my whole life. Then as time went on the kids song came to my head. You get it on Youtube Jesus loves all the Children of the world red and yellow black and white. We are to do the same. I know it is hard. Especially when things like what happened to you that day with your son at Doctors and me that day at my appointment with my Doctors. It not nice. But Jesus would also want us to forgive them as I have done and pray for them. Remember they probably are not saved. People of the world who are not saved don’t stop to think about their words and what they say can hurt people. Saved or unsaved. They mainly only think ot themselves. You always remember you are a Daughter of the King. That King is Jesus he Love you and your Son no matter what. That is all that matters. Jesus never makes Mistakes. Excellent reading as always. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx

    • Forgiveness is imperative for Christians, Dawn, BUT that doctor’s prejudices endangers the lives of people he is supposedly serving. If he is working in Medicaid clinic, one would think he would be attuned to helping a variety of people. He should be reported to the state medical board and Medicaid. If Michelle had to take your son to an emergency room, they should have been made aware of why they were forced to use their services. Hugs and prayers to Michelle y familia. From a retired RN.

    • Hi Dawn, I hear you. I’m sorry you’ve had a similar experience with a doctor too. They are painful and threaten to make us feel worthless. I have learned to forgive in these moments, just like Christ on the cross when he said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Ignorance plays a huge role, absolutely. I do think, sadly, that these sorts of mentalities are prevalent within Christian spaces too. Part of my desire to write about these stories is to shed light into an often avoided topic and to gently encourage the body of Christ to grow in areas of cultural sensitivity, love and solidarity.

  9. You know I have no kids. But I can feel your Pain. It must have been offal for you that day at the Doctors with your son. You have too much like me do what Jesus would want you do. Forgive the Doctor that day and pray for him. I was see someone one time because of my seizures due to me having heavy periods. Which I never have now. As I had operation to fix that. But I wanted to cry at the Doctor and the way he spoke to me that day. He didn’t even say Hello. All he said was what can I do for you. I thought that day you are the Doctor you know why I am here. I said I will do what Jesus wants me to do be nice too you. But when I finished seeing him I never felt so small. I never felt as though I was not wanted in my whole life. Then as time went on the kids song came to my head. You get it on Youtube Jesus loves all the Children of the world red and yellow black and white. We are to do the same. I know it is hard. Especially when things like what happened to you that day with your son at Doctors and me that day at my appointment with my Doctors. It not nice. But Jesus would also want us to forgive them as I have done and pray for them. Remember they probably are not saved. People of the world who are not saved don’t stop to think about their words and what they say can hurt people. Saved or unsaved. They mainly only think ot themselves. You always remember you are a Daughter of the King. That King is Jesus he Loves you and your Son no matter what. That is all that matters. Jesus never makes Mistakes. Excellent reading as always. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx

  10. I almost could not finish reading this article after I read what that doctor did to you and your child. I have a three year old son. I cannot imagine this happening to him or to us. Awful and horrible. Praying for you and him now. This breaks my heart.

    • Thank you, Sarah. I know. It was hard and awful and traumatic. No mother should ever have to experience such things with their child, and yet I know that my story is so many mother’s stories. Grateful for your prayers and encouragement. The righting of wrongs, healing and forgiveness, breaking the cycle of racism both within and outside of the church – these are things we definitely need to pray about!

  11. Michelle!!! I am so proud of you for sharing this story!! Ironically, just this weekend, I shared this/your story with mom’s on my Brownicity team. They joined me as I had the honor of being a speaker and workshop presenter for Charlotte Family Housing’s Family Empowerment summit. I had the privilege of sharing my story about how a Medicaid administrator tried to shame me, seemed to look past me (instead of truly seeing me), talked at me, instead of with me, and made poor assumptions about my children’s intellect and diet. My audience leaned in and nodded in agreement. They could relate! I encouraged them with the truth: I AM more than my circumstances! We focused on what “I AM” means! I was so inspired by their participation!! The room lit up with identity TRUTH!

    I know it is tough to think about this, let alone write about it. I appreciate your vulnerability. May we all embrace your story as our own. May we grow and become better from having bore your pain. May we all be set free from the lies of race/ism ideology that steal, kill, and destroy humanity.

    • Thank you, Lucretia! It’s crazy how so the news and other national media outlets recurringly say that there is no such thing as racial discrimination at the doctor’s office and in hospitals (among other places). I do hope that by you and me and others sharing our stories that people will see how prevalent this problem is. It’s only after we can see it as pervasive, as a real and present evil, that we can begin the hard work of breaking the cycle.

  12. Michelle: I am so sorry that happened to you and your son. Thank you for sharing this difficult story and for pointing us back to our identity in Christ.

  13. Michelle, it saddens me that you have experienced situations like this. No doctor should act like that. No one should be treated like that. I am sorry you experienced this and other situations like this. We are all valuable and worthy. Period. It us not something we have to earn or strive for. I hope we remember that our words carry power and speak only enabling words to ane another. Our identity is in Christ, not how others treat us.

  14. Oh Michelle, I am so very sorry this happened to you! I can only imagine how hard that was, or how hard it might have been to share with us here. Thank you for sharing here, for opening our eyes, for breaking our hearts in a much-needed way. Do you mind if I ask…did you get medical treatment for your son elsewhere??

    • Hey Mary! So, I called Aaron afterward and then he brought A to the clinic. Even though Aaron is Latino, he is much more fair-skinned than I and the doctor immediately prescribed medicine for him. I still remember just sitting in the car in the parking lot and just weeping. I’m grateful that my son did finally receive the antibiotics that he needed, but I also know that his/my story is not the only one. I do also hope that in sharing this story people will also see how real and pervasive the problem of racial profiling is. Perhaps then we can begin working toward breaking the cycle.

  15. The way you were treated disgusts and angers me. I hope you lodged a complaint with the clinic you go to against that boorish and racist doctor. Why such a man would be a doctor astounds me. If not the clinic, lodge a complaint with the attorney general of your state and your elected officials…. his behavior was against the law. I hope you took your son to the emergency room and told them why you had to come there. That man should have his license revoked and not be allowed to practice, or in your case-refuse to practice, medicine. That licensing board is another place to lodge a complaint. People like that need to be held accountable for their behavior. I loath racism and am fearful of the wave of bigoted people who seem to be growing in number or crawling out from the dark. Jesus was likely a dark skinned man. Skin color or ethnicity means nothing. The behavior of the person is what has significance. I am so sorry this happened to you and that you often have to endure such un Christ-like treatment in a country founded on the principles of Christianity.

    • I’m so grateful for your passion and desire for justice! Unfortunately, this doctor is not an exception when it comes to treatment of people of color at government clinics. I could share story after story from friends across the country who have experienced the same. I’m grateful for allies and would be grateful for people willing to speak at levels of policy to help break cycles of racism and racial profiling… and, yes! Jesus was indeed a brown-skinned man 🙂

  16. Michelle, I am so glad you decided to share this story! I can’t count the number of times we’ve faced similar things, especially when on Medicaid. And I know it’s often much worse for my Black and brown sisters. It’s exhausting and dehumanizing. You know I think you’re amazing and I’m so incredibly glad for your voice here. Keep on bringing the truth that we may all grow, examine our hearts, lament, and work to grow more Christ-like in our dealings with others, remembering everyone is created in the image of God.

  17. Michelle, reading your story I felt such heartbreak for you, and deep anger towards the cruelty of this doctor, and others who have been so heartless! I am so very sorry that you and your son experienced this awful treatment. I cannot begin to understand how people can be so cruel. And then I pause to remember the lost state of this world and those who do not know Christ. The ways of this world are wickedly, hate-filled. Satan, the enemy of our souls is wreaking havoc on earth…but only for a season. Our Almighty God will right all wrongs! Sadly, those who do not know Christ as their Lord and Savior do know recognize they are being led by evil. Those who hate follow hatred. Their eyes are blinded. They are lost. We must pray for them. They need Jesus! Sadly, they do not understand that we all are made in the image of God, which makes each person beautifully unique, loved and valued in God’s eyes! Always know that you are a beautiful woman, wife, mother, and daughter of the Most High God! Continue to hold your beautiful head high, walk in God’s peace and let the love of Christ embrace you as you journey through life. Because you belong to God, you truly are a light in this dark world. Thank you for sharing your story. Heartbreaking as it is, it does shed light on the darkness of prejudice and the sting of rejection and hurt. Thankfully, because you know your identify rests in Christ, you have been able to persevere through these types of hurts. Your strength is encouraging and a testimony of God’s amazing life transforming grace. You are an overcomer! Keep your eyes on Jesus, sweet sister and press on! Hebrews 12:2 (MSG) encourages us to “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.” We must hold fast to His promise that one day, He will wipe away every tear, and we will live with Him for all eternity in Heaven. There will be no prejudice, no hatred, no heartache, no hurt. What a glorious day that will be! I will never meet you this side of Heaven, but I will meet you there and I can’t wait to give you a big hug as my sister in Christ! For now, know that your fellow Christian sisters have your back and we believe you are beautiful, worthy and a blessing to so many! Press on dear one, and let your light shine!

  18. Michelle-I’m so sorry, sister, that these sins have been committed against you. It grieves me that this is so pervasive in our society. And I’m sorry that too often, it’s other Christians who are most determined to be blind to it. Thank you for your courage to speak up and to press into this issue!

    • Thank you, Gina, for hearing my story and for being willing to hear and understand. Grateful for your support and solidarity. The problems and racism behind mistaken identity truly are pervasive in our society, and I hope that me sharing this story will help shed a bit more light on this. Thank you for sharing my story as well. I hope this is a conversation that we can be having many more times moving forward.

  19. Oh, Michelle… this makes me furious!! No one should have to experience that! I so admire the way you have leaned into the Truth of how you are seen in God’s eyes. You write, “God may be calling you to be brave in order to use your privilege and power to speak against things like racial profiling and to speak up on behalf of those who have been silenced.” He is. And I will. Blessings to you, sister!

    • Ah, praise God! Thank you, Michelle, for sharing this. I am so encouraged that God spoke to your through this post. May He give you wisdom in guidance in how to be an ally in the fight against racism, to speak truth, bring light and break the cycle in ways that I cannot. Grateful for you, friend.

  20. This is heart breaking!! I worked in the medical field for over 25 years, and I’ve never heard of a doctor being so unprofessional!!! If I had worked for one that acted liked this, (and I had known this!) he’d have been told off, for sure!! My heart goes out to you and your son. It doesn’t matter if you have Medicaid, no insurance at all, or the best that can be had, you deserve to be treated with respect and compassion. I’m so glad we don’t have to dwell on how others see us, but focus on how Christ sees us, and how He loved us enough to die on the cross for us, and rose again so that we can be with Him. You’re a daughter of the King, so straighten your crown and go on. Continue to be the best Mom you can be, and show your son the better way. And, if you ever see that doctor again, don’t hesitate to put him in his place!!

  21. So sorry . May God continue to bless and and guide you through this world that we know is not our true home.

  22. What courage it took to write this! I too have experienced some things based on the colour of my skin, and I am not a parent yet but I could not imagine how much more hurt and rage I would have if it also involved my child. I hold onto the image of Jesus right beside me, telling me, “I know. I know this hurt, and I know you.” It’s a very tender place to be in. Thank you for sharing and much love to you! ❤️

    • Thank you for commenting, Adora. I’m sorry that you too have experienced this form of racism. Grateful for your words of encouragement too. You are so right. Jesus knows our pain. He has suffered too. We have a high priest who understands our pain personally and deeply, and he cares for us. And sometimes that truth alone is enough.

  23. Michelle,
    I have been mulling over your story all day and trying to figure out an appropriate reply that I could post. I was literally shaking with rage when I read what happened to you! But my anger doesn’t help the situation or support you unless it is directed constructively. I am a Caucasian woman, and because of various situations the Lord has allowed me to encounter over recent weeks, I have been pondering what “hidden” racism I am completely unaware of in my community and what role I can play in changing it. I live in the suburbs of a relatively small city in the northeast, and to the best of my knowledge, the situation you are describing could not happen here without severe repercussions (we don’t have separate Medicaid clinics here; local providers in regular practice care for those patients too). As others have mentioned, I hope that you reported this incident to the medical board in your state. That man should not be allowed to practice medicine, period, but he should particularly not be getting paid by the government! I realize that dealing with that one situation won’t really solve the larger problem, though. I am praying for you as you navigate such unthinkable incidents on a regular basis. I hope that I don’t sound condescending when I say that I have thought you are absolutely gorgeous since the first time I saw your picture on an (in)courage post you offered. Thank you for making yourself so vulnerable in sharing such a degrading incident. May God help us all to be able to see constructive change in this ongoing, horrible issue of racism.

    • Hi Rachel, I’m so grateful that you took the time to comment. Your words mean so much to me. I’m praising God that he has been speaking to your heart and encouraging you to grow in your awareness and sensitivity to the problems of racism and racial profiling. These are hard waters to navigate, but I am grateful to have an ally and someone who is willing to raise their voice in solidarity with my own to pursue justice in this area. It is something that we as the body of Christ can grow in together.

  24. Thank you for sharing. I am a Caucasian female who has always had a God given hatred for racism and your words made me burn with righteous anger towards the doctor involved. I am a medical provider who always aims to treat my patients with dignity. It makes me sick to know that one of my medical peers is so ignorant and unkind. I apologize in behalf of the medical community who hurt you.

  25. Oh, the hurt! Thank you, Michelle, for sharing the truth about bigotry and how it tramples so callously on the dignity of others. I pray that (in)courage readers will ingest your story and then, when they encounter bigotry, remember to call it out and demand it be stopped. May God bless and keep your family and shield you from all hurt and harm. With His love, Patricia

    • Amen! Thank you, Patricia, for how you’ve led the way and have encouraged so many women, like myself, to lean into Christ and speak boldly in truth and in love. Grateful for you, your friendship and your voice.

  26. You, friend, are brave and strong and courageous and beautiful and my gosh, A is lucky to have you as his mama. I could picture you next to me on the brown leather couch, re-hearing you tell this story. I’m so glad you shared it here. You told the truth and you pointed to Truth and I’m grateful for you. Linking arms with you.

  27. Yes and sometimes its hard being any color…I came from a poor family a young divorced mom raising children on her own with no help from her ex….she worked hard to send us to private school….but kids made fun of us cause our mom was divorced back then that was an oddity…others assumed we were wealthy cause we went to private school yet made fun of the clothes we wore and the fact we had no car…lived in a duplex on the poor side of town…yet it was across the street from our school and our church and 7 blocks from moms work…we were taught to pray to believe in a God who loved all folks and races and creeds and colors….and yes we were white but grew up with a stigma all its own….I think every person of every color has trials to face…its part of life or else this would be heaven….we just arent there yet…and life is not fair and sin happens cause we’re human and we fail…but never blame your color…it reaches us all…God bless and prayers for your family

  28. Michelle,

    So sorry that you & your son had to endure such behavior. You would think that prejudice would mostly be gone by this time, but undoubtedly not. That doctor should think hard about his hippocratic oath to do no harm. I can understand a little how you feel. I worked at university for a number of years. We started having an influx of middle eastern students. They wore the burkas & everything. It was scary at first wondering what they were studying & doing here. But once you got to know & understand them a little they were just like us. Sure they have different beliefs, but other than that not much else was different. I wish everyone would walk a mile in others’ shoes. Just to know the pain & anguish they experience daily. We have it so good here. Let’s try to be brave & speak up for others. Not judging by skin color, but by who the person is.

    Blessings :

  29. I know your purpose is not to get my sympathy.

    Rock it sister. Say it.

    Keep writing and speaking and being the woman you are. Most importantly keep loving your man and your babies and advocating for them and their future. And in so doing, for humanity. Amen.

  30. I’m a 56 yr old white RN who has custody of my 4 year old grandson. He is on TennCare ( Tn version of Medicaid )
    I too have been treated poorly at pediatrician office by dark skinned employees ( including physicians) I am treated like my grandson shouldn’t be allowed government assistance bc we are white. In reality I’m barely able to keep us afloat.
    Just know bias and discrimination are part of all cultures not just white people