Tamika Cross, a “corporate American working woman of color” is sick of being disrespected. On Oct. 9, Cross, an African American OB/GYN, shared a story on Facebook about her recent flight with Delta Air Lines. She is a resident at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston, who was flying from Detroit to Minneapolis on flight DL 945. During the flight, a woman screamed that her husband was unresponsive. However, she said she was discriminated against by a flight attendant who refused to let her help with the sudden emergency.
According to a Facebook post made by Cross, “I naturally jumped into Doctor Mode….unbuckled my seatbelt and throw my tray table up and as I’m about to stand up, the flight attendant says ‘everyone stay calm, it’s just a night terror…’ 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 sweetie put your hand down, we are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel, and we don’t have time to talk to you.’”
Cross tried to inform the flight attendant that she was in fact a medical physician but she was repeatedly cut off by condescending remarks. The flight attendant reportedly asked if she was “an actual physician” and continued to question her credentials as a doctor. The flight attendant however, then demanded to see her credentials. But, when a white male physician approached the flight attendant, Cross was “basically dismissed.” According to Fox News, the flight attendant then said, “Thanks for your help but he can help us, and he has his credentials,” even though Cross reported not seeing the man showing any form of identification.
Given the situation, Cross could not do anything but sit back down. However, 10 minutes later, she said that the flight attendant returned to her for help. All Cross wanted to do was to help the man who needed medical attention, so despite her grievances with the flight attendant, she did. According to Cross’s Facebook post, she first needed to know the man’s vitals and blood sugar levels, in order to assess the passenger. The flight attendant tended to the man and came back to report to Cross; Cross immediately informed the flight attendant that his blood pressure was too low. After the commotion, the man was eventually all right.
Cross stated that the flight attendant apologized several times and even offered her skymiles in lieu of the situation.
“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,” said Cross.
Not only was Cross angered at the situation, but she took that anger to social media. Her Facebook post drew many supporters who shared similar stories and gave words of inspiration. By her Facebook post alone, Cross had over 100,000 Facebook reactions, thousands of comments, and over 37,000 shares. Some responses were encouraging, whereas others were negative. According to Fox News, some of the comments stated that Delta should “dismiss the flight attendant,” while others thanked Cross for shedding light on the “all too common” behaviors.
Still Standing Garrison, a Facebook account holder, posted on Delta’s Facebook page stating, “[Your] company should be ashamed on how they treated Tamika Cross. I will not be flying Delta and I’ll be urging others not [to] as well.”
Delta commented with, “Please know we are aware…and are working directly with the customer. This does not reflect the Delta culture. We condemn discrimination toward our customers…As a global airline…Delta is deeply committed to treating all our customers with respect.”
Taking one social media handle by storm, her Facebook post branched out to Twitter followers who expressed their own concern and their opinions on the situation. Many made tweets, incorporating hashtags such as, #TamikaCross, #WeDoExist, and #WhatADoctorLooksLike and including pictures of female doctors of color in order to draw attention that there are medical professionals of color.
Her post didn’t only spark outrage in women of color but specifically, outrage among female medical professions around the world. Many posted selfies of themselves and captioned it with the said hashtags.
After the flood of social media backlash, Delta Air Lines released numerous statements like the Facebook response above, to calm the flames. Also, the airline stated that three medical professionals identified themselves and only one was able to produce documentation, and the one who did was the one who assisted the unresponsive passenger, according to CNN.
Delta has made it clear that it is a part of airline policy for flight attendants to collect identification information from any medical volunteers before assisting in on flight emergencies.
“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 judgement,” said Delta in a released statement.
Also, after the incident, the airline has said to have reached out to Cross, spoken with crew members and to other passengers to enquire what happened on the flight. Cross, however, said that Delta has reached out to her and left messages but she has not yet responded.
According to CNN, Cross made it clear she doesn’t want the flight attendant to be fired, but instead to undergo sensitivity training, stating everyone makes mistakes and she is hoping for an apology from Delta.