Too often racial discrimination goes unnoticed, but a black woman from Houston is speaking out about a recent, unsettling experience on an airplane.
Dr. Tamika Cross said she was on a Delta flight a few days ago when a male passenger required immediate medical attention. A spokesman with Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport confirmed that a man passed out on the flight.
When the flight attendant asked if there was a doctor aboard the airplane, Cross said she immediately went into "doctor mode" and raised her hand to help. But Cross said the flight attendant ignored her.
"Oh, no, sweetie, put [your] hand down," the flight attendant said, according to Cross. "We are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel, we don't have time to talk to you."
When Cross insisted that she was a real doctor, the flight attendant reportedly asked for her credentials. Cross noted that the flight attendant allowed a white male doctor to help without any physical credentials.
Cross said that despite the discrimination, she still continued to help. And while she was later offered SkyMiles as an apology, Cross still stuck up for her principles on social media.
"Whether this was race, age, gender discrimination, it's not right," she wrote on Facebook. "She will not get away with this... and I will still get my SkyMiles."
Cross posted her story to Facebook on Sunday. As of Thursday, her post has received over 69,000 likes.
The shortage of doctors of color is well-documented. Only about five percent of practicing physicians are Hispanic, and less than four percent are African American.
Building pipelines that ensure people of all backgrounds can enter medicine is important, and, as Duke University Medical Center's Damon Tweedy argued in The New York Times, would likely directly and positively impact a wide swathe of things, including mortality rates. And, as a bonus — more diversity in the field would only help to shatter stereotypes.
Catherine Sirna, a spokesperson for Delta Air Lines, said that the incident was under investigation and that Delta had contacted Cross.
"Discrimination of any kind is never acceptable," Sirna said in a statement. "We've been in contact with Dr. Cross and one of our senior leaders is reaching out to assure her that we're completing a full investigation."
A Plus reached out to Cross for a statement.
Cover image via Matej Kastelic / Shutterstock.com