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After experiencing discrimination in her field, this doctor says it's OK to feel shame for the past

 Gail Dudley is a retired osteopathic physician in Hillsborough County
Gail Dudley
Gail Dudley is a retired osteopathic physician in Hillsborough County

During Black History Month, we are hearing from listeners about their views on what should be taught and learned in Florida classrooms, and the dangers of censoring or limiting discussions about the past.

Today we hear from Gail Dudley, a retired osteopathic doctor in Hillsborough County, who recalls her own experience training in medicine when there were few women in the field.

She says she worries about Gov. Ron DeSantis's recent moves to take control of New College in Sarasota, and to reject an AP course in Black history.

"I'm very concerned because the governor wants to have only his conservative viewpoint. With New College — depending on who you listen to — they're either very successful or very about to fold financially. But he's brought in six of his own people to completely change the curriculum, and closed down AP courses in Black history. To me, that's very concerning. Why is he doing it? What is he afraid of?

"Having been a woman in medicine when there were six females in a class of 70, I felt discrimination, not only by the male doctors, but by the female nurses. So discrimination is something that I've experienced in that little bit of history. Now certainly I can't compare that to any of the others, but I know what it means to be discriminated against, both for people of different colors and people in rural areas, because where I lived in West Virginia, it's considered a rural area, but they're also frontier areas. So if you're being discriminated against in some of these areas, where you're limited in what you can get in the way of medical care, that to me, in my profession is very concerning.

"And I don't think just one side of any story should be told. You should hear all sides of a story and then make up your own mind.

"It's OK to feel shame for something that happened in your country's history. It's not OK to make that it's like your fault that this happened. And that's what they're trying to say. They're saying that if we teach people today about what happened, they're going to feel guilty? Well, I don't think that's true.

"We need to know the history not only of the African Americans, but what we did to the Native Americans. We really gave them a bad time of it. The Chinese, we've given them a hard time; Japanese, look what we did to them in World War II.

"So we have a history of discrimination, which we can change, but not if we sugarcoat it and cover it up.

"You have to understand it and see it and look at it, in order to be able to change it. And whenever you only are able to see one side of a story, it's skewed."

Copyright 2023 WUSF 89.7. To see more, visit WUSF 89.7.

Kerry Sheridan is a reporter and co-host of All Things Considered at WUSF Public Media.