Early on Thursday, we wrote about a black transgender woman who was kicked off a plane after the pilot didn't like her ASAP Rocky shirt and Black Panther hat. Now, we have another alleged incident of racism on an airplane: A black woman says her Delta Airlines plane crew nearly let a passenger die because they didn't believe she was a doctor.
Dr. Tamika Cross wrote about the incident on October 9 in a Facebook post, which has now been shared over 20,000 times and counting. She starts her post by saying she's "sick of being disrespected" and that she's "sure many of my fellow young, corporate America working women of color can all understand my frustration." According to MLive.com, Cross is in her OB-GYN residency with McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas-Houston.
Cross had been in Detroit for a wedding, and was flying back home to Houston. During the flight, someone a couple rows in front of her "was screaming for help" because a man was unresponsive. Then, Cross wrote, "I naturally jumped into Doctor mode as no one else was getting up." Right as she was about to stand up, though, the flight attendant said, "Everyone stay calm, it's just a night terror, he is alright."
But minutes later the man became unresponsive again, prompting the flight attendant to yell, "Call overhead for a physician on board." When Cross offered to help, the flight attendant allegedly told her, "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 tried to explain that she was a physician, she "was continually cut off by condescending remarks."
Then the crew requested a physician again, this time on the overhead. Cross went to press her button to alert the crew, prompting the flight attendant to ask, "Oh wow you're an actual physician?" When Cross said yes, the flight attendant reportedly asked: "Let me see your credentials. What type of Doctor are you? Where do you work? Why were you in Detroit?" The barrage of questions came while "this man is still in need of help," Cross explained on Facebook.
Cross answered the flight attendant's questions and said, "Now excuse me so I can help the man in need." But she wasn't able to even try to help the man—another "seasoned" white guy comes up and says he's a physician too. "Thanks for your help but he can help us, and he has his credentials," the flight attendant then tells Cross. (Cross writes that, at the time, the white physician "hasn't shown anything" to the flight attendant; he just "showed up and fit the 'description of a doctor.'") Cross stayed seated but she was "mind blown" and "blood boiling."
About ten minutes later, according to Cross, "this heifer has the nerve to ask for my input on what to do next." Cross then helps take care of the man.
Cross pointed out that the flight attendant "needed my help and I continued to help despite the choice words I had saved up for her." Later on, the flight attendant apologized to Cross multiple times and offered her Skymiles—but Cross declined, writing, "I don't want Skymiles in exchange for blatant discrimination." She continued, "Whether this was race, age, gender discrimination, it's not right. She will not get away with this."
"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," Delta posted to its website Friday morning, adding that the company was conducting a "full investigation" of the incident.