Was it race, gender, youth, all of them, or none of them?
Tamika Cross, a young OB-GYN flying Delta from Detroit to Minneapolis, heard flight attendants calling for medical assistance when a passenger man two rows in front of her was found to be unconscious. Dr. Cross raised her hand, only to be told, according to Cross’s subsequent Facebook post on the incident, “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.”
Cross says she tried to explain that she was a physician, but was “cut off by condescending remarks,” from the attendant. A moment later, when there was a second call for medical assistance and Cross again indicated that she was ready to help, the same flight attendant said, according to Cross, “Oh wow, you’re an actual physician?” She then quizzed Cross about her credentials, area of practice, and where she worked. In the meantime, a white, middle-aged male passenger appeared, and Cross, she says, was dismissed.
On her now viral Facebook post, Dr. Cross concludes:
“She came and apologized to me several times and offering me Skymiles. I kindly refused. This is going higher than her. I don’t want Skymiles in exchange for blatant discrimination. 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….”
What’s going on here?
1. This was an emergency situation.
2. Dr. Cross sincerely felt insulted and treated with disrespect.
3. She also feels that she was the victim of stereotyping,, bias and prejudice.
4. Her account can be presumed to be an honest recounting of how she experienced the episode.
5. The Roshomon principles apply. We do not know how the flight attendant perceived the situation as it developed, and will never know, since the incident is already tainted with accusations of racism.
6. This was an emergency situation.
7. There is no way to determine what the flight attendant was thinking.
8. Despite all of the above, observers, analysts and others will be inclined see the event as confirmation of their own already determined beliefs and assumptions.
9. This was a single incident, involving a set of factors interacting in unpredictable ways.
Next, some ethical observations…. Continue reading