"Oh, He's Korean."

My son and I both went to see the doctor this afternoon (swollen knee and sinus infection, respectively.) We live in a community that prides itself on being "progressive," so I was taken aback by the conversation that took place in my son's exam room.

"He should see an orthopedist," the doctor told me.

"Could you give us a referral?" I asked.

"Oh, yes. Try Dr. Rockport. He shares a practice with Dr. Smith. And Dr. Oh. He's Korean."

We drove home wondering what in the world could have motivated that extra unnecessary bit of information. Here are the choices:
  1. He was anticipating our confusion over the doctor's "foreign" name.
  2. He figured that since I was Asian, I might prefer an Asian doctor.
  3. He thought I might buy into the smart Asian doctor stereotype.
  4. It was racist. He would never have said, "And Dr. Oh. He's black."
  5. All of the above.
Please weigh in, as I'm confused. And yes, the doctor was a white, middle-aged guy.

Coming after a strange incident on vacation last week when a stranger instructed me in strident tones to "go back to your f---ing country," I'm feeling a bit discouraged about life between cultures in these United States.