Does Insurance Cover Ghetto Booty?

You think Sir Mix-a-Lot likes ghetto booties? (courtesy of KBXX)

A complaint against Dr. Timothy Sweo of Jackson, Tennessee has just been filed by 55-year-old Terry Ragland, a patient who claims that the diagnosis he gave her for back pain was both insulting and demeaning—not to mention racist and sexist.

Ragland suffers from lumbar lordosis—commonly known as swayback—a condition that occurs when extra weight or stress on the lower back causes it to arch, which in turn can cause great pain and discomfort. Unfortunately, there is no real cure for it—aside from losing weight and strengthening abdominal muscles, which many people don’t like to do—but medication can help alleviate the pain.

If Sweo had explained Ragland’s condition this way, it is likely a complaint would never have been filed. Instead, he made an attempt at humor and tried to “make a technical conversation… less technical.”

“I know what the problem is,” Sweo told his patient after examining her thoroughly. “It’s ghetto booty.

Needless to say, Ragland was not amused.

“I think I blacked out after he said ghetto booty,” she said when asked about the offensive diagnosis. “I think my mind was just stuck on the phrase because I couldn’t believe he said that.”

Ragland informed the office manager of what happened and received a letter of apology from Sweo a short time later, but this didn’t stop her from filing a formal complaint against him with the Board of Medical Examiners. They will review her claim to determine if it is warranted and if any disciplinary action should be taken against Sweo. To date, his record is unblemished.

In case you hadn’t guessed by now, Ragland is a black woman and Sweo is a white man, which makes his comment both misguided and insensitive. Granted, I also found it kind of humorous, but it was inappropriate nonetheless. Doctors simply need to be more professional.

Of course, I’m confident that Sweo said this in jest and did not intend to insult Ragland, even though that was the effect of his comment. I certainly won’t try to excuse his behavior, but I do feel something should be said in an effort to better understand his offensive diagnosis.

Could you pick a ghetto booty out of a line up? (courtesy of Koja Stilez)

Like Sweo, I am also a white person… Caucasian, pale face, honkey… whatever label you prefer is fine. And like a lot of white folks—especially white guys—I have always heard how much black men love ladies with large bottoms.

Hell, Sir Mix-a-Lot had a huge hit in 1992 with “Baby Got Back,” the video of which included women with sizeable rumps, as well as big orange hills that were either gigantic peaches or the rear ends of some tremendous, upturned Oompa Loompas. Either way, there were butts everywhere.

So to me, it’s not the booty comment that caused problems for Sweo; it’s the ghetto qualifier he put in front of it. This word has been connected to African-Americans for a long time and, in every respect (as far as I know), it always carries a negative connotation.

Have you ever been to a good ghetto, after all?

Personally, I have been known to use the word ghetto from time to time, but never as a negative reflection on a person or race of people. It’s just become a popular slang term and, like many others, I find myself using these kinds of terms often. It’s an unfortunate consequence of working with young college students, I’m afraid. Of course, I am always very careful about when I use this word and who is around when I do.

Because of this, I sympathize with Sweo to some extent, but I also feel he should have kept this comment to himself given his patient and the professional nature of her visit. Is ghetto booty as bad as dropping an N-bomb? Of course not, but it’s definitely in the same ballpark. And since both terms are derogatory to a race of people—in this case black people—avoiding them is, to me, more representative of respect than trying to joke with someone based on cultural stereotypes.

You would think a doctor of medicine would understand that, wouldn’t you?

Posted on July 16, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Actually, “ghetto booty” is a term in itself. It refers to a large, curvaceous ass, which usually is associated with black women.

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