Passenger Almost Died During the Flight Because a Flight Attendant Refused to Believe a Black Woman Was a Doctor
Many young, corporate America working women of color understand the frustrations of being disrespected. As experienced by Tamika Cross, sometimes it goes beyond disrespect.
Tamika Cross, an obstetrician, and gynecologist was flying out of Detroit, Michigan aboard Delta flight DL945 when she heard screams. It was the woman seated two rows in front of Tamika screaming for help. A male passenger on the plane, who turned out to be the screaming lady’s husband, was unresponsive. A flight attendant quickly took charge and reassuringly asked everyone to stay calm. The attendant went on to inform the passengers that it was just a night terror and the man was alright. Despite the reassurance, Tamika continued to watch the scene carefully.
A couple of minutes later, the male passenger was again unresponsive. The flight attendant immediately called overhead asking for a physician on board. As a practicing doctor, Tamika’s first instinct was to help, and so she raised her hand to grab the attendant’s attention. The attendant asked Tamika to put her hand down since only actual physicians, nurses, or any other type of medical personnel were needed. As such, they did not have time to talk to Tamika. Although Tamika tried to inform the attendant that she was a physician, she was continually cut off with condescending remarks.
A voice then came from overhead asking any doctor on board to please press their button. Since no one else was responding to the request, Tamika naturally jumped into doctor mode. As she went to press her button, Tamika kept staring at the attendant, who seemed utterly taken aback. She wanted to know if Tamika was an actual physician and even requested to see her credentials. Even though there was a male passenger still in need of medical assistance, the questions did not stop there. The attendant wanted to know what type of doctor Tamika was, where she worked, and why she was in Detroit.
Tamika gave quick and short answers to each of these questions: OBGYN, working in Houston, and in Detroit for a wedding. Tamika even went a step further and informed the flight attendant that despite her ignorance, there were doctors in Detroit. She quickly unbuckled her seatbelt and threw her tray table up. However, something strange happened just as she was about to stand up. The attendant stood there, blocking Tamika from standing up. And so Tamika asked the flight attendant to excuse her so that she could help the man in need.
Just then, a white man approached the row and said he was a physician. The attendant thanked Tamika for her help, saying the white man would provide the necessary assistance, especially since he had his credentials. Other than fitting the description of a doctor, the white man did not provide any credentials and neither was he asked to present any. Her mind blown and blood boiling, Tamika remained seated and watched as the previously unresponsive man responded to questions.
About 10 minutes later, the attendant asked Tamika for her input on the next course of action. After Tamika had informed her that they needed vitals and blood sugar, the attendant reported back a BP of 80/50. They were also unable to find a glucometer, but Tamika continued with them down the pathway of medical work. Despite the choice words she had saved up for the attendant, Tamika kept helping since her services were in need. In addition to being midflight, the patient and his wife were not the problem and needed assistance.
To Tamika, the experience was so hurting that she was not willing to forgive. The attendant apologized several times and even offered sky miles. Tamika kindly refused the offer since nothing is worth being blatantly discriminated against.