A Black woman who tried to render medical aid to an unresponsive passenger on her Delta flight Sunday said she was barred from doing so because the flight crew just couldn’t believe she was a licensed doctor.
Tamika Cross, a Black OBGYN from Houston, was on a flight out of Detroit when she heard a commotion. A woman seated two rows in front of her was calling out for help because her husband had become unresponsive and needed medical attention.
But when Cross tried to notify the flight crew that she was indeed a doctor and wished to help the man in distress, she was quickly cut down with disparaging remarks.
“I’m sure many of my fellow young, corporate America working women of color can all understand my frustration when I say I’m sick of being disrespected,” the OBGYN wrote of her humiliating experience on Facebook. “…The flight attendant yells ‘call overhead for a physician on board.’ I raised my hand to grab her attention. She said to me ‘oh no sweetie put ur hand down, we are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel, we don’t have time to talk to you.’ ”
Cross said when she pressed her overhead button to again signify that she was a doctor on board, the flight attendant reportedly said, “Oh wow, you’re an actual physician?” The flight attendant then asked Cross for her credentials, where she worked and why she was in Detroit in the first place.
“Please remember this man is still in need of help and [the flight attendant] is blocking my row from even standing up while bombarding me with questions,” Cross noted in her post. “Another ‘seasoned’ white male approaches the row and says he is a physician as well. [The flight attendant] says to me ‘thanks for your help but he can help us, and he has his credentials.’ ”
Cross pointed out that the white man never showed his credentials, but he was willingly allowed to help out because he fit the description of a typical doctor: white and male.
The OBGYN expressed rage and disappointment at what happened. She said throughout the harrowing ordeal, however, the flight attendant repeatedly came back to ask for her input on what to do to help the unconscious passenger.
“We continue down that pathway of medical work up, but the point is she needed my help and I continued to help despite the choice words I had saved up for her,” Cross wrote. “The patient and his wife weren’t the problem. They needed help and we were mid flight.”
After the ordeal was over, the Houston doctor said the flight attendant came back to offer her an apology and a few extra Sky Miles. Cross flatly refused.
“I don’t want skymiles in exchange for blatant discrimination,” she said. “Whether this was race, age, gender discrimination, it’s not right. She will not get away with this…and I will still get my skymiles…”
A representative from Delta has since denounced the in-flight incident and ensured that the company would fully investigate the matter.
“Discrimination of any kind is never acceptable,” Delta Air Lines spokeswoman Catherine Sirna told Atlanta Black Star. “We’ve been in contact with Dr. Cross and one of our senior leaders is reaching out to assure her that we’re completing a full investigation.”
Cross’ Facebook post has since received over 42,000 likes, 15,000 shares and 6,000 plus comments from people who shared their frustration and anger at her experience. Tamika Cross could not be reached for comment.