I don't believe race is still a huge problem in our country, but I have noticed something really odd lately. My white attendings usually refer to black patients as "African-American" and to white patients as "Caucasian." However, my black attendings usually refer to black patients as "black" and to white patients as "white." I'm intruiged, since studies have shown that dark-skinned Americans descended from sub-Saharan Africans prefer the label "black." I wonder if this is just a generational thing, since I always say "black" or "white."
And the descriptor itself doesn't make sense. I've white South African friends who call themselves African-Americans as a joke, just to point out the absurdity.
It is equally absurd to refer to white patients as "Caucasian" for two reasons. One, real Caucasians (Georgians, Chechens, etc.) are usually a bit dark skinned, and two, almost none of the white population of America is from anywhere near the Caucasus. It would make only slightly more sense to call white people "Alpsians" or "Pyrennesians" (staying with the mountain theme).
Just something I think is odd. And by perpetuating awkward politically correct descriptors, I think we stall the final elimination of racism. Morgan Freeman said recently that "the only way to eliminate racism is to stop talking about it" and further that "black history month" was offensive. I think he's right on.