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#WhatADoctorLooksLike: Black Lady Alleges that her Offer to Help a Passenger was Rejected by a Flight Attendant Due to Discrimination

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Tamika Cross | Photo via Facebook

Tamika Cross | Photo via Facebook

Tamika Cross, an obstetrician-gynecologist wrote on Facebook about an incident while she was on a flight from Detroit on Saturday, October 8.

She said that she raised her hand when the crew called for medical help to assist a fellow passenger, but added that she was waived off, told by the flight attendant that the crew was “looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel.”

She wrote:

I’m sure many of my fellow young, corporate America working women of color can all understand my frustration when I say I’m sick of being disrespected.

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 of minutes 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 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” I tried to inform her that I was a physician but I was continually cut off by condescending remarks.

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 replid ‘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 and is seemingly better now Thank God).

Then (she had) the nerve to ask for my input on what to do next about 10 mins later. I tell her we need vitals and blood sugar. She comes back to report to me a BP of 80/50 (super low, to my non medical peeps) and they can’t find a glucometer. We continue down that pathway of medical work up, but the point is she needed my help and I continued to help despite the choice words I had saved up for her. The patient and his wife weren’t the problem, they needed help and we were mid flight.

She came and apologized to me several times and offering me skymiles. 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….

Following the incident, the airline released a statement, saying that it is investigating the case. It said:

Delta continues to investigate a story surfaced by Dr. Tamika Cross in a recent post on Facebook.

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. We are in the process of conducting a full investigation. We’ve reached out to Dr. Cross to speak with her directly, talked with our crew members and we’re reaching out to customers who were on board to gather as much information as we can.

While there is much we can’t share because our investigation involves confidential personnel matters, we do want to share what we can.

Three medical professionals identified themselves on the flight in question. Only one was able to produce documentation of medical training and that is the doctor who was asked to assist the customer onboard. In addition, paramedics met the flight to assist the customer further.

Flight attendants are trained to collect information from medical volunteers offering to assist with an onboard medical emergency. When an individual’s medical identification isn’t available, they’re instructed to ask questions such as where medical training was received or whether an individual has a business card or other documentation and ultimately to use their best judgment.

Delta’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and respect of all of our customers worldwide is rooted deeply in our company’s values and culture. As a global carrier with a diverse workforce, serving a diverse customer base, we are committed to treating all passengers with kindness and respect.

Cross’ post caused a stir on social media with other doctors of colour sharing photos of them in their offices with the hashtag #WhatADoctorLooksLike#BeingADoctorWhileBlack was also another hashtag used on social media.

41 Comments

  1. B.E

    October 15, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Ok so when I initially read the story on Facebook, I was appalled by what seemed like clear discrimination.

    However! On reading this now, I can understand why ID (credentials I don’t get) can be requested for as there are so many ‘fake’ doctors and Delta I imagine bears some responsibility for passengers onboard their crafts.

    This publicity is good publicity for we black folks though as enough is enough abeg!

    • eyong

      October 15, 2016 at 10:13 pm

      Eh, na… What would a person gain from being a “fake doctor” to a dying person? But I’ve been in several situations were a doctor was needed and never have credentials been asked for. And when someone is no longer breathing, it’s no time to write a five page investigation as to whether a person says the are who they are. Every second counts.There is only so long the brain can go without oxygen, and if that man had not been lucky with the WHITE doctor showing up (whom they allegedly didn’t as for credentials of) then he would be a brain dead person, if not just plain dead. So, no, there’s no excuse in any way. It’s blatant prejudice and racism. It’s clear that hostess was looking down her nose at that doctor.

    • tunmi

      October 16, 2016 at 12:49 am

      So why didn’t they ask the whole doctor for his credentials. And why did they keep asking the black doctor for her guidance… Gtfohwtbs

  2. Marlvina

    October 15, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    Beyt she wasn’t given the opportunity to show her identifcation before dismissing her.

  3. xplorenollywood.com

    October 15, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    Read this story on Facebook too and I’m like wtf! We watch movies where people that can do cpr come and assist the person so what’s their excuse abegi!

  4. Passingby

    October 15, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    I’m sure if you had shown some ID. They’d have let you attend to the guy. Your ID says you are a registered Doctor and if anything goes wrong your medical licence would be in jeopardy not the airline. It is the airlines responsibility to ascertain that you are indeed a registered doctor. If you aren’t and they permit you to touch a passenger then the airline will be in trouble.

    • Me

      October 16, 2016 at 12:38 am

      You’re a fool….. Let me guess u currently live in Nigeria and don’t ever and will never understand racism. White ass kissing dlimp

    • Passingby

      October 16, 2016 at 10:38 am

      your guess / assumption is wrong. Does that make you foolish? . It’s easy to psycho analyse you based on your angry lash out. Black, working 3 jobs just to stay alive, mad at life and just looking to , blame everyone and everything for your current situation. Fix your self.

    • Omolagos

      October 16, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      I beg haul your ass back to Nigeria if you can’t deal. You that isn’t kissing white ass what are you doing in that country. At least the other blacks were forcefully put on a boat , they can’t find their way home . You invited yourself there after humiliation at visa tinzs . How has your presents in America helped the fight against racism. Who u epp?Come and help revamp our nation. Jumping from frying pan into hell fire MTCHEWWWWWWW . Agbaya!!!!.

    • Amadi

      October 16, 2016 at 8:21 pm

      You are in America doing menial jobs to survive. We have menial jobs in Nigeria. But u prefer to clean and kiss oyingbo ass. Baboon. You deserve all the shit they give you. You want to turn yourself into black American. Hum yeye de smell of foreign shit

    • Anike

      October 16, 2016 at 1:43 am

      There’s something called ” good Samaritan law” for that purpose. To protect the airline and people that try to help on case of emergency. Please educate yourself.

    • ATL's finest

      October 16, 2016 at 2:45 am

      @passingby try & be street smart even if U ain’t book smart. Who jumps up to give medical help when they ain’t about that?? Of course some mumu will do that but they know the risk of doing such. I have offered someone a CPR before at Walmart before the Paramedics came. They didn’t stop me or interrogate me until I was DONE & as soon as they came, they took over. Someone is unresponsive & asking all that crappy BS isn’t called for . My friend U ain’t making no sense. If Dr. Cross was a white female Dr, they won’t question her like the others. Anyway, Dr Cross will make some $$$$ of Delta. She’s got to Sue their A**

    • Philomina

      October 16, 2016 at 9:55 am

      What she gonna Sue them for. As far as the hostess was concern she’s following policy and vetting. Dr Cross may be the one in trouble for not having ID. As for your question on who pretends to be a medical professionals there are so many krakra people out there who would happily blow up a plane with themselves on board also people would do anything for a few airline perks. As for your claim about offering CPR with your knee jerk reaction attitude I wonder if you did the necessary checks Before proceeding, did you ascertain if the person was pregnant, diabetic, allergic to black people, breating, had a pulse etc. You just dived in to resuscitate yeah right. We got intelligent people on Bella you aren’t one Alt.

    • Joke

      October 16, 2016 at 2:47 am

      Passingby you start your post with, “I’m sure…” You are sure of nothing, since you weren’t there. Blatant and covert racism is alive and very well in the USA and this is a very real example. Black professionals in all fields go through this all the time. Once you’re black in America, you are assumed to be an unskilled laborer working a menial job till you prove otherwise. Don’t talk about what you don’t know.

    • Fact

      October 16, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      Passingby you missed the point. They were dismissive period. I doubt that she would be travelling with her work ID that shows she’s a real doctor and FYI as a doctor myself, nobody gets in trouble as there is such a thing as the Good Samaritan act. That was why the white doctor sis t get asked to show his own ID which further made it obvious that she was being profiled.
      Don’t make excuses for bad behavior.

    • Fact

      October 16, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      Excuse typo . *didnt get to show ID.
      FYI the main form of ID is a drivers license and that doesn’t have MD on it. Do you walk around 24/7 with your credentials?

  5. Iris

    October 16, 2016 at 12:57 am

    You did read that the white doctor didn’t show any ID first, right?

  6. ATL's finest

    October 16, 2016 at 2:36 am

    Wahal.. First hats off to Dr. Cross cuz honey I won’t lie, it’s recently that myself, my man & aunt raise out hand on board. They dont want her service but they got the nerve to ask what to do next??? #RIDICULOUS# Because of this B****. I have seeing my aunt just fold her arm on board & DON’T move coming from Nigeria, the dude passed out of the floor #Ebola# season too smh.. I had sth similar happened to me at Walmart & ever since then, I just pray for the person ONLY I know its overseas. But with these foolishness going on with racism, I don’t get it..

  7. BlackandProud

    October 16, 2016 at 3:05 am

    Racism in America is real and disgusting. As a black woman working in the health sector, i have taught myself to rise above it and be the best i can be in my chosen line of profession. If you work in a hospital in America I can almost swear you experience racism atleast once a week from folks who just believe you are in capable of doing your job just because of the color of your skin. I had just accepted a job offer in a hospital in SW Georgia and on my very first day there to complete some paper work with HR, I worked up to the front desk and asked for directions to HR, the lady asked if I had an appointed which i said yes and then she went further to ask if I was looking to work there, I said yes and the next thing that came out of her mouth was ” Environmental service here is great! I’am sure you will enjoy working here, and they also have a great boss too” Now that threw me off balance….for one to just assumed that because I am black the only position I could possibly get is Environmental Service. Now don”t get me wrong, I respect the environmental service crew, they do an awesome job in the hospital and i make it a point of duty to always say “thank you” to them whenever they walk into my office. But for someone to just assume that blacks ain’t good enough for anything other than Environmental service is just low. We are great doctors, nurses, technologist and we put in our very best in what we do. By the way… i did not respond to home girl! She got her answer when i resumed work and she did come to apologize.

  8. aj

    October 16, 2016 at 4:34 am

    nawa when will all this discrimination end?!

  9. Anne

    October 16, 2016 at 6:46 am

    I am a Nigerian. I practice law in Los Angeles. I’ve lost count of how many times Judges mistake me for a litigant even after I’ve announced my appearance as an attorney. They aren’t used to seeing young black female lawyers appear in court as lawyers. It’s not necessarily racism but implicit bias.

  10. Passingby

    October 16, 2016 at 8:00 am

    If you are going to make a case of discrimination you’ve got to put emotions aside and look at things logically. Sometimes that may necessitate playing the devils advocate and trust me you need an air/water tight case to prove discrimination. In this case the lady in question did not have any ID. It is the duty of the head flight attendant to ask for ID and then CALL it in to verify. Yes the other man was allowed to treat the client could this be because he had already been identified on the manifest? You are aware that some doctors due to the equipment they carry on board are Identified by the airline , hence they’ve already been cleared. Yep there is discrimination and racism it’ll be stupid to say otherwise for that very reason we need to be SMART to prove it and beat it. Your mob mentality, Shouting about it has not done much to change the way things are. In fact they expect you to start shouting wat they don’t expect is logic. So now and then give them a shock okay!. At ALTS DUMBEST you don’t need to be a registrant to give CPR. You lucky you didn’t preform CPR on an unconscious racist because you’ll just revive them and get slammed with assault for breaking a couple of ribs go figure. Fools rush in were angels fear to tread. @Anike Good Samaritan law is not mandatory on all airlines, it also has its limitations in regards to medical indemnity coverage. For example you may be allowed to give advise but not administer medication until your qualifications have been cleared by the airline. I’m a registered health professionals I’m very aware of litigation discrimination and racism. I get client who state that they don’t want BLACKS giving them care Wat you gon do about that? I personally appreciate it when clients are upfront with their racism it’s the hidden ones you want to be careful off. That is why as a black health professional you follow policy to the T. It’s not right but it sure as hell protects from litigation. The point I’m making is if this lady had shown ID and had been refused to treat the client she would have an airtight case against the airlines.

    • savonarola

      October 16, 2016 at 9:24 am

      Even blacks at times don’t want blacks to give them care. I think we have to learn to live with this issue, what cannot be cured have to be endured.

    • Anthony

      October 16, 2016 at 10:21 am

      Thank you passing by,The fact remains that she could not prove who she claimed to be. The burden of prove was on her and she failed, shikena. Except the white doctor collaborates and says he hadn’t been cleared by the airline but had been allowed to treat the passenger her claim of discrimination wont hold. The airline can just say they were following standard procedure. Racisim is a tough cookie to prove you got to be clued up to prove it and fight it.If you cant prove it leave it. I agree wholeheartedly mob mentality gets your ass locked up or even worse shot. Be Smart and Black stay alive to fight and win another day. who are you going to help if you are locked up or shot.

    • purplieciousbabe

      October 16, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      For you or anyone that has not experienced ‘racism’ ‘discrimination’ ‘prejudice’ or the following kind has no reason but to keep quiet.
      The same people will argue Rosa Parks should have stood up and not say anything.
      Same people will argue that Martin Lurther King knowing fully well that he may die, he should have sat down and kept quiet.

      My point: You cannot defend what you have not experienced.
      You cannot defend what you already deem as our fault.
      You Anthony and anyone that defends racism is on the side of the oppressor. I always say one thing to the likes that have such mental thought process, may it happen to you! Experience they say is the best teacher.

      I have never understood it until I went through it in the UK.
      I totally get it.
      Be black, be oppressed, dont speak up but nod at everything.
      The minute you speak up, you are wrong, questioned, antagonized and called all sorts of names.
      #Whitepriviledges, everyone and anyone will believe that you are anything because your skin speaks for you. It is alright for you to speak shit, talk BS and be alright cos you are white.

      Let me break the post down for you.
      Racism has everything to do with how others are treated less favourably or even harshly in comparison to other race.

    • Anthony

      October 16, 2016 at 11:34 pm

      My point: You cannot defend what you have not experienced.
      You cannot defend what you already deem as our fault.

      Seriously what language is this or is it science?

      You Anthony and anyone that defends racism is on the side of the oppressor. I always say one thing to the likes that have such mental thought process, may it happen to you! Experience they say is the best teacher.

      Really !! No dear I have experienced racism and have been schooled on how to deal with it and score major points. I choose my battles and make sure I WIN. I don’t flap my hands about crying racism for 2 whole minutes then crawl back into my hole to lick my wounds when noting comes out of it – like the likes of you may be inclined to do.
      And by the way , I’m sorry to have to point this out but racism should be the least of your problems, your grammar is what’s after you babe, that’s your major obstacle and Prehaps why you never get called back after interviews. You’ve been abroad fighting racism for all these years and you have not arranged your English language skills ?!. How are you suppose to fight racism if you can’t express yourself?.

    • Just saying

      October 16, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      So why did the air hostess offer her sky miles later which she declined? Maybe she knew exactly what she did.

    • Cynical

      October 16, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      Everyone, what @passingby said. She/he has concluded the argument.

    • Fact

      October 16, 2016 at 11:18 pm

      She wasn’t asked for her ID she was asked for her *credentials* what part of the story are you so adamant to understand????

      By the way she is a registered passenger on an airline and if they were so interested in bypassing the Good Samaritan act which covers them because they have to prioritize life in the wake of emergency then get in the wifi and Google her name to confirm……the point she was making was that they didn’t apply the same standards to the white male doctor.
      Looks like you must work for Delta because you are too much on the defensive and failing to see the reality of the situation.

  11. John

    October 16, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Lol and here I taught all women belong in one feminist and sisterhood family, so why the racism..

    • John

      October 16, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Thought

  12. Deedee

    October 16, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Hmm was too upset to continue reading na wa

  13. Cynical

    October 16, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    @ Philomina, whaaaat, that was a shade and a half,OMG……..??

  14. Professor X

    October 16, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    There is nothing on an ID that says you are a doctor, so the uninformed should stop with “she didn’t show ID”. In fact, there is almost nothing you can carry on your person that shows with absolute certainty that you a doctor (business cards can be faked) other than a copy of your big diploma and board certification.

    • Fact

      October 16, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      Thanks professor x! My point exactly. Many doctors attend to emergencies on planes without being treated so dismissively because the priority is to save a life.

  15. Amaka

    October 16, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    your hospital ID is good enough or even your passport or drivers licence any photo ID , plus the name of the hospital you work in. A quick call is made to the hospital to verify who you are. I wasn’t on board the flight so can’t really say what happened. But I do agree that you need all the facts. I work as an agency midwife when I go to hospitals if I don’t have my ID , PIN number, supervisors name etc I’m not allowed to practice in the hospital, no matter how short staffed they are. I remember going to a hospital to work I had forgotten my ID I had work there the night before so the sister let me work they had actually sent some other midwife home for not bring sufficient credentials. So there can be more to this case than meets the eye. I will like to know the fall out.

    • Professor X

      October 17, 2016 at 12:17 am

      Also, who carries their work ID to travel?? It stays on my white coat where it belongs so I can actually get access to employee entrance and restricted areas at the hospital.

      I’m also confused at your comment about being an agency midwife and having to provide credentials every time. The HR at your any of the hospitals you work at ought to have your licensing information and credentials on file including their expiration dates. Besides that information also needs to be verified with your state or region medical licensing office.

    • Amaka

      October 17, 2016 at 7:21 am

      @ professor X . I like inquisitive minds I’ll try an enlightened you, but also check to ensure the details I’m giving are correct , I work as an nhs agency midwife. That means external temporary staff not internal I.e bank. It’s mandatory that I am verified each time I attend a hospital. I must have with me my PIN number. The sister does a check on the system NMC to make sure I am still registered to practice. The NMC site will show if I have pending disciplinary, on suspension, or supervised practice in any of these cases I would not be allowed to practice external to my Trust.. Now let me answer your next question why don’t they check before hand? As a external staff you get called up at short notice the hospital might not be given the name of the midwife coming therefore checks are not done until arrival. Also they need a face to the name and pin, hence your presence at the desk is required. ( this has to do with fraud prevention) Why don’t the midwives divulge the information before hand, well your guess is good as mine. These checks are standard safety measure I also do them to Agency midwives when they attend my unit. In fact even if you attended the previous night I’ll check because status on NMC can change in 24 hours.. Now I hope I have helped clear up your confusion. It would be nice if you’ll apply the same sort of inquest into the case of dr cross and delta airlines. I see you didn’t ask any questions just made your judgement. Call on that case.

      Most normal grown ups walk around with some form of photo ID in their wallets especially their drivers license. A quick call to the doctors licensing body using the photo ID is all that is needed. Back to the case at hand Like I said I do not no all the facts on the case I wasn’t there neither were you I do not know why dr cross was not given a chance to verify her status. Or why the other fellow was allowed, had he been checked before hand? Was the flight attendant informed of the presence of a male doctor on board. Is that who she was looking for ? Was the flight attendant sexist? Was she racist? Had Dr cross had a couple of drinks on that flight? I’m such a person that needs all the facts in order to make an informed decision. I’m an inquisitive person and will ask questions. If I were on board that flight I would have demanded some explanation from the flight attendants. Not having the full picture can skewered your judgement. I can not vouch for Dr cross just because she’s black, neither can I vouch for the air hostess. . Racist are the worse form of ignorant degenerates that ever walked the surface of earth . I’m not about to toe their ignorant line and judge without facts. I’m following the case be cause I’ll really like to know the out come.

  16. Omolade

    October 17, 2016 at 6:51 am

    Racism is real. Professional discrimination too dey. I’m a Medical Doctor practising in Naija and I honestly can’t count the number of times patients or their relatives call me nurse because somewhere in their minds women are not supposed to be doctors, you’ll see these same people calling male nurses doctor. I’ve even come across some who have called me “aunty” after introducing myself to them as a medical doctor, they’ll even put up an attitude, then let a male doctor walk in, they shout doctor ??. Sometimes it’s amusing, other times it’s just really annoying and i give it back to some of them with the attitude issues. But mostly, in my mind i’m like if you think I can’t help you, please carry your wahala to another person, because if i start to talk….

    • Krasavitsa

      October 17, 2016 at 8:36 am

      Oh mehn! It grates on my nerves when people call me aunty nurse and refer to the male nurse as Dr. Like can’t they see I’m the one in the ward coat??? It’s so annoying! Many give me the twice over after introducing myself as Dr and some go on to ask “how old are you?”. Some of the female nurses can be sooo rude! No one EVER makes the mistake of calling my male colleagues “oga nurse” and the nurses are rarely rude to them. I think it has to do with sexism.

  17. onyii

    October 17, 2016 at 11:13 am

    This reminds me of a story my father told me….my dad is an estate surveyor and property valuer. When he was working in the UK , he was sent by his office to do a valuation job. So when he got to the property, met the caretaker and proceeded to ask the questions that he needed to ask to do his job. He noticed that the caretaker, who was white of course was reluctant to speak to him. So he asked if there was a problem, this man told him pointedly, that he had nothing to say to him, that when the valuer arrives he will speak to him. Daddy now replied “I am the valuer, so answer my questions”…Daddy went ahead to show him his ID…..Te shock on the man`s face said it all “How dare a black man have a white-collar job”, after all we should all be cleaning toilets and working as security guards. Its unfortunate, but racism is something a of of us will have to live with.

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