A Man Almost Died Because Airline Staff Wouldn’t Believe That A Young Black Woman Was A Doctor

Life & Culture Editor
10.13.16 10 Comments


If you refuse to believe that bigotry is still going on all around us — even in the theoretically friendly skies — then you need to know about Dr. Tamika Cross, a Houston-Based OB/GYN who was almost refused a chance to help an unresponsive man because of her appearance (she’s a black woman, who also looks young — though not too young to be a doctor).

According to Cross, who posted her story on Facebook (and made it clear that no amount of SkyMiles could ever make up for the flagrant racism and sexism she experienced upon a recent Delta flight), she was on her way back to Houston from Detroit when a man a few rows ahead became completely unresponsive.

From her Facebook post:

Was on Delta flight DL945 and someone 2 rows in front of me was screaming for help. Her husband was unresponsive. I naturally jumped into Doctor mode as no one else was getting up. Unbuckle my seatbelt and throw my tray table up and as I’m about to stand up, flight attendant says “everyone stay calm, it’s just a night terror, he is alright”. I continue to watch the scene closely.

A couple mins later he is unresponsive again and 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” I tried to inform her that I was a physician but I was continually cut off by condescending remarks.

It would have been bad enough if it had ended there, but it got worse. Dr. Cross eventually convinced the flight crew she was a doctor, but when an older white male physician also approached to help, Cross was pushed out of the picture:

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)

Ironically, as soon as Cross had gotten back in her seat and resigned herself to the fact that she was going to have to complain about this, a flight attendant came back and started asking her for help (which Cross did). The crew eventually apologized — and offered Sky Miles — but how many Sky Miles would it take to erase this ugly episode? By the end of the post, you feel Cross’s frustration boiling over when she writes:

“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….”

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