One of the coolest things about becoming a doctor is knowing that if someone yells out “I need a doctor!” in public you’ll get to save the day. That is, if they let you and don’t deprive you of the opportunity simply for being a black woman.
Tamika Cross, a physician-obstetrician and gynecologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, was on a Delta flight from Detroit to Minneapolis when a woman called out saying that her husband needed medical attention. Cross did the right thing and volunteered and let the flight crew know what was going on. That’s when the situation got uncomfortable, according to the Washington Post.
According to a Facebook post Cross made, a flight attendant came to the scene and asked her to prove that she was a medical professional by offering some sort of “credentials.”
“Oh no, sweetie, put [your] hand down,” Cross said the flight attendant told her. “We are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel, we don’t have time to talk to you.”
Cross said that she tried to convince the flight attendant that she was a fully credentialed physician multiple times, but was only met with condescension. The flight attendant then made a call for any physicians on the flight to press their call buttons, which Cross did, much to the attendant’s surprise.
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”.
When a white man came up from his seat to help, the flight attendant let him take over, even though he apparently even needed to ask Cross for help on how to treat the passenger’s low blood pressure.
After the fact, the flight attendant apologized and offered Cross free SkyMiles for the inconvenience, which she kindly refused. Delta has made multiple attempts, including reaching out to Cross personally, to apologize for the incident and make it clear that they don’t support their employee’s decision to profile a black woman with the assumption that she couldn’t possibly be a real doctor.
After the story broke, hashtags such as #TamikaCross, #WeDoExist and #WhatADoctorLooksLike all began to trend on social media in support of Cross’ experience and to show that black female doctors aren’t nearly as much of a rarity as some people would like to believe.
Photo Credit: Facebook