Black doctor asks to help Delta passenger, denied by flight attendant
On October 9, Dr. Tamika Cross was more than a Delta Air Lines passenger heading to Minneapolis. Cross, a physician from Houston, was a sympathetic medical professional who “jumped into doctor mode” to aid an unresponsive passenger. But, her effort to assist was shunned by a flight attendant because she did not look like a doctor.
In a detailed Facebook post, Cross wrote, “the attendant said, ‘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’. ”
Cross, a resident OBGYN physician at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said when a second call was made for a physician on board to “press your button” to assist, she did. While the man was still in need of help, the same flight attendant then asked to see her credentials and bombarded her with question such as, “What type of doctor are you? Where do you work? Why were you in Detroit?,” Cross said.
In her post, Cross explained that the flight attendant shunned her because of her race and was confident in the abilities of the white male doctor who also did not present credentials.
Cross said that about 10 minutes later, when the ill passenger’s health began to improve, the flight attendant actually asked her advice about what to do next. Cross complied with the request and said vitals were needed and a glucometer to test blood sugar levels. The flight attendant eventually apologized several times to her, even offering her SkyMiles.
“I kindly refused,” Cross wrote. “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.”
In a written statement, Delta Airlines said it reached out to the doctor and is investigating the incident. “We are committed to treating all passengers with kindness and respect,” it stated.
Diversity magazine wrote, “Many Black doctors have had similar experiences when their abilities have been questioned due to appearance.”
Cross’s post went viral with more than 88,000 likes and 42,000 shares. Black female doctors stood in solidarity with Cross and began posting pictures of themselves using the hashtag: #WhatADoctorLooksLike.
The Drum readers proudly shared photos and names of South Louisiana doctors, giving local awareness to the tag.