Visits to the doctor can often be uncomfortable, but one Black Tennessee woman didn’t expect insult and humiliation upon her visit.

Terry Ragland, 55, went to an orthopedics and spinal doctor in April after experiencing severe lower back pains. During her visit with Dr. Timothy Sweo—a White doctor—she was given a disturbing diagnosis.

“He said I know what the problem is, it’s ghetto booty,” Ragland said in an interview with Memphis CBS affiliate WREG.

“I think I blacked out after he said ghetto booty,” Ragland said. “I think my mind was just stuck on the phrase because I couldn’t believe he said that.”

Sweo sent Ragland an apology letter for the “street” jargon he used to describe her condition. In a subsequent interview with WREG, Dr. Sweo stated “What I was trying to explain to that patient is that she has lumbar lordosis, which is a fancy name for the curve of the lower spine that makes the buttocks protrude more. In trying to explain that I said that she had a ghetto booty.”

According to Sweo’s website,, he has been practicing orthopedics for 12 years.

In a statement, Dr. Sweo agreed he would not use the term “ghetto booty” again. However, he said he did not fully understand how the term offended Ragland.

“I think I do understand why her feelings were hurt, but I don’t understand what’s offensive about it,” he said in a statement. “That was probably inappropriate. She certainly felt that way and I won’t do that anymore.”

Ragland has filed a complaint with the state of Tennessee. After further investigation, the state Board of Medical Examiners office will decide whether disciplinary action against Sweo is necessary.


Blair Adams

AFRO Staff Writer