After graduating from school, Doctor Bessie joins her brother's practice in the heart of Harlem.
Although she faces discrimination based on both race and gender, she proves herself to be a skilled dentist "that [...] would take any patient, no matter how sick" (5.19.10).
Bessie serves not only poor clients (often pro-bono), but also much of Harlem's elite.
One time at a dentist conference, Bessie is given intentionally wrong directions by a white bellhop, leading her to the men's bathroom. She refers to this moment as "one of the lowest points" in her life (5.19.20).