In the event that a passenger falls severely ill in midair, the flight crew will ask to see if there’s a doctor onboard who can assist with the medical emergency. That’s precisely what Tamika Cross — an OB-GYN from Houston — said happened on her October 9 Delta flight when a passenger two rows in front of her became unresponsive. But when Cross attempted to get the flight attendant’s attention, she says she 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.”
In a Facebook post that’s since gone viral, Cross describes being condescended to repeatedly by the flight attendant, which she believes happened because she’s a black woman. For instance, she describes being grilled about her credentials by the incredulous flight attendant:
Then overhead they paged “any physician on board please press your button”. I stare at her as I go to press my button. She said “oh wow you’re an actual physician?” I reply yes. She said “let me see your credentials. What type of Doctor are you? Where do you work? Why were you in Detroit?” (Please remember this man is still in need of help and she is blocking my row from even standing up while bombarding me with questions).
I respond “OBGYN, work in Houston, in Detroit for a wedding, but believe it or not they DO HAVE doctors in Detroit. Now excuse me so I can help the man in need.” 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. (Man is responding the his questions and is seemingly better now Thank God)
Cross ended the post by saying that the flight attendant eventually apologized and offered her Delta SkyMiles, writing, “I kindly refused. This is going higher than her. I don’t want skymiles in exchange for blatant discrimination. 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 …”
Since then, several black women doctors have tweeted messages in support of her using the hashtag #WhatADoctorLooksLike.
Delta, for their part, has responded to comments on their Facebook page, writing, “As a global airline that brings hundreds of thousands of people together every day, Delta is deeply committed to treating all of our customers with respect. Delta is investigating this matter and will be working directly with the customer.”