A case of racism in the sky almost led to a man’s death on a recent Delta flight out of Detroit. According to witnesses and Dr. Tamika Cross, a passenger became unresponsive in his seat. Cross attempted to help the man but was actually stopped by the flight attendants. She posted her experience to Facebook:
“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 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 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)
“Then this heifer has the nerve to ask for my input on what to do next about 10 minutes 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.”
According to Cross, after the incident, the flight attendant apologized and tried to offer the doctor Skymiles. Cross refused and stated she intends to make the higher-ups at Delta aware of the situation. She wrote, “This is going higher than her. I don’t want Skymiles in exchange for blatant discrimination.”