It looks like Delta refuses to give in and believe that black women can actually be doctors. After last week's debacle with Tamika Cross, you'd think they'd have learned their lesson, but sadly, you'd be wrong. On October 14, Dr. Ashley Denmark wrote about going through a similar ordeal on a Delta flight from Seattle to Hawaii.
About an hour into the flight, a flight attendant asked if there was a medical professional on board who could help an ailing passenger. Wanna guess what happened next?
Denmark detailed her experience on the blog Melanin Medicine:
When duty calls it calls- even if you are 30,000 feet in air. Without hesitation, I got out of my seat and made my way towards the front of the cabin where I was greeted by two Caucasian women and a delta flight attendant. I quickly asked “What’s going on?” Then I stated, “I’m a doctor. How can I help?” Immediately, I was greeted by puzzled looks from all three women. The flight attendant asked, “Are you a doctor?” to which I replied “Yes.” My response only left a more puzzled look on the attendant’s face. She turned around and began to talk to another flight attendant. I stood there in bewilderment because someone on the plane was in need of medical assistance and no one was escorting me to the passenger in need. Finally, one of the Caucasian passengers who came to assist spoke and stated her and the other passenger present to assist were both nurses. Then she asked, “Are you a doctor?” to which I responded “Yes” …..again. She immediately responded “Well you need credentials to show you are a medical professional.” I gave a funny look but, remained composed and quickly quipped “I have my hospital badge which should be enough.” At this time the flight attendant turned around to address us again. She inquired from the two nurses what field of medicine in which they worked. At this point, I had grown annoyed. I had been standing for four minutes and had yet to see the passenger needing medical assistance. I grew even more perplexed as time passed. Why was the flight attendant addressing the nurses if a doctor is present and able to assist a passenger in need of medical attention? I interrupted the flight attendant’s discussions with the two nurses and stated, “I have my hospital ID badge which shows I’m a physician.” The Delta flight attendant continued to look puzzled then stated, “We have two nurses here who came first. You can have seat now and we will let them handle it. If we need more help we will come and find you.” Wait a minute- stop the presses! What just happened?!?! I advised that I was a doctor who was licensed to provide medical care. Instead of being escorted to the passenger in need of help, I was directed to return to my seat and told that the two nurses could take care of the situation.
As Denmark was returning to her seat, it suddenly dawned on her that the simple explanation was that the crew didn't believe that she was a doctor. She continued:
Being a doctor is hard work. Your services are constantly needed, you have a never-ending stack of paperwork, very long work hours, you are constantly an emotional support for patients during their most trying times. But, being an African American doctor is many times harder with the adversity we face on frequent basis. We are constantly overlooked, questioned, doubted and find ourselves in situations where we are working twice as hard as other non-African American Doctors just to prove we are good enough to be called doctors. Well enough is enough. I feel it’s time to share the discrimination I have faced as an African American doctor. I’m sure I’m not alone and there are many other African American doctors like me who have endured discrimination in silence. Often time we have to face this adversity with class and grace- never breaking a sweat and holding in our frustration as people treat us unjustly all because of the color of our skin.
Seriously, Delta. You need to get it together. You should be better than this.