In the wake of Dr. Tamika Cross and her harrowing experience of racism on a Delta Airlines flight last week comes yet another story, eerily identical to the previous one. This time, the doctor involved — on yet another Delta Airlines flight — was Dr. Ashley Denmark.
While on a flight from Seattle to her friend’s destination wedding in Hawaii, Denmark heard the flight attendant announce via intercom that she needed a doctor to assist a patient in distress.
“When duty calls it calls — even if you are 30,000 feet in air,” she wrong on her blog, Melanin in Medicine on Oct. 14. “Without hesitation, I got out of my seat and made my way towards the front of the cabin.”
However once she reached the flight attendant, she writes that she “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.”
Denmark then writes that she was asked again if she was a doctor, to which he responded, “Yes” … again.” The person questioning her “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.’ ”
Denmark says that she was mostly ignored, with the flight attendants turning to the nurses to ask what field of medicine they worked in.
“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?”
Apparently, in the field of medicine, nurses and other medical support staff defer to doctors on medical decisions. And yet, the doctor in this scenario was ignored while the nurses were given seniority in decision making.
After Denmark was turned away by the flight attendant, who said her services would not be necessary because of the nurses who had arrived “first,” she says she opted to comply, rather than make a scene. But as she walked back to her seat, scanning the cabin for the passenger in need, she saw the whispers and stares from other passengers. She realized, much to her embarrassment, that no one — not the passengers, the flight attendants, or nurses involved in the situation — believed that she was a doctor.
The hashtag h, was started after Cross’ story went viral earlier this month in order to combat the stereotype that Black women are not doctors. In Cross’ case, no one believed she was a doctor, but a white man was immediately believed because he fits the stereotype of what a doctor looks like.
Atlanta Black Star reached out to Denmark and Delta Airlines for comment. Denmark declined to comment further. Delta Airlines did not respond.