Black Woman Calls Out Flight Attendant for Not Believing She's a Doctor

When a person needs immediate medical attention, there shouldn't be time for discrimination. Right? Well, not in the case of Dr. Tamika Cross. When a fellow passenger on her Delta flight lost consciousness, the OB/GYN resident -- who happened to be a 28-year-old black woman -- claims she offered to help but was blatantly dismissed because the flight attendant refused to believe that she actually had medical credentials. Yes, really.


In her now viral Facebook post, Cross shared her frustration over the the incident, which she says unfolded like this: After seeing that another passenger was obviously in trouble, Cross attempted to tell the attendant that she was a doctor. After raising her hand to notify the attendant, Cross was told, "Oh no sweetie put [your] 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."

Aside from the fact that this response was completely uncalled for and inappropriate when a person's life is in danger, it gets much worse. 

Cross says she tried to explain that she was a doctor but that she was continually cut off by offensive remarks. It wasn't until they called for physicians to press their buttons that the attendant addressed her again and said, "Oh wow, you're an actual physician?"

Rude doesn't even begin to explain it.

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She said the attendant then proceeded to block her row and "bombard" her with questions: "Let me see your credentials. What type of doctor are you? Where do you work? Why were you in Detroit?"

Cross responded so that she could, you know, uphold her oath as a doctor and attempt to help the man who was then unresponsive. But before she could do anything, here's what she says happened next:

Another 'seasoned' white male approaches the row and says he is a physician as well. She says to me 'thanks for your help but he can help us, and he has his credentials.' [Mind you he hasn't shown anything to her. Just showed up and fit the 'description of a doctor'] I stay seated. Mind blown. Blood boiling.

Mind blown is right! Now if this isn't an example of blatant prejudice and discrimination, then I really don't know what is.   

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Delta issued a statement:

We are troubled by any accusations of discrimination and take them very seriously. The experience Dr. Cross has described is not reflective of Delta's culture or of the values our employees live out every day. We are in the process of conducting a full investigation. We've reached out to Dr. Cross to speak with her directly, talked with our crew members and we're reaching out to customers who were on board to gather as much information as we can.

The airline went on to explain: 

Three medical professionals identified themselves on the flight in question. Only one was able to produce documentation of medical training and that is the doctor who was asked to assist the customer on board. In addition, paramedics met the flight to assist the customer further.

Flight attendants are trained to collect information from medical volunteers offering to assist with an on board medical emergency. When an individual's medical identification isn't available, they're instructed to ask questions such as where medical training was received or whether an individual has a business card or other documentation and ultimately to use their best judgment.

But this clearly does not seem to be an issue of having credentials. According to Cross, her help was denied before she could even offer up her background information. She may not have had her credentials (and we get why having them would be important), but the way that she was spoken to was plain disrespectful. 

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This should not be happening. Period. Many others agree and have taken to Twitter to protest these kind of stereotypical assumptions by posting photos of black women doctors, along with the hashtag #WhatADoctorLooksLike.


There was a man who could have died on that flight and who could have received medical attention a lot sooner -- but he didn't receive immediate care because one person decided that she didn't think Cross conformed to the stereotypical image of what a doctor should be. 

Thankfully, the passenger did receive treatment from another doctor on board, and Cross says she was eventually asked for her input (which she graciously provided). As for the flight attendant? Well, Cross said she apologized and attempted to offer her flight miles, which Cross rightfully refused.

This is unacceptable treatment. You would think that, especially when another person's life is at stake, prejudice can be put aside. Judgement can be withheld. And we can realize -- one human being to another -- that we can help each other despite our differences, despite our stereotypical notions of who does what in society. At least, I hope that's an idea that we can all agree upon. 

We should be beyond instances like this in which people are discriminated against because of race and gender, but clearly we have so much farther to go.


Image via Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock

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