Doctor from Houston Faces Racism on a Plane

by hunter_c on October 18, 2016 - 11:53am

Despite the progress that America has made since the 1960’s with the Black Civil Rights Movement, there is still a tremendous amount of racism in the United States. A prime example of this happened to Dr. Tamika Cross, who is a black doctor from Houston, Texas. Dr. Cross was on a plane flying out of Detroit when a fellow passenger on her flight became unconscious. A woman began screaming for help, so naturally, Dr. Cross stood up and offered her assistance. Instead of being greeted with gratitude, she was greeted with “blatant discrimination” as quoted from Tamika Cross. The flight attendant who was on board was quoted saying, “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.” Despite this being incredibly rude and degrading, Dr. Cross refused to give up and insisted that she was qualified to help the unconscious man. The flight attendant began berating her with questions (keep in mind the man in still unconscious and needs medical assistance) when a white man stood up and said he was a doctor. Immediately the flight attendant disregarded Dr. Cross and allowed the white man to help. He didn’t have to answer any questions, he just “fit the profile” of what a doctor looks like.

This type of behaviour and pre-conceived notions towards people of color is not new in America and unfortunately has a very ugly history. Back in the 17th and 18th century, slave owners used to actually justify their actions by saying that African-Americans were unintelligent and were incapable of being anything other than slaves. This way of thinking did not stop at slave owners, racism also crept its way into science and stayed there for a lot longer than a lot of us would like to admit. Scientists like Samuel Morton strongly believed that whites were superior to all other “races” and that black people were at the bottom of the barrel. Morton’s study on this which consisted of measuring skills to measure intelligence was considered revolutionary and he was even considered the most respected scientist of his time. Science even went as far as creating eugenics, which was “based on the idea that intelligence and other behavioural traits are genetically inherited.” Because of this belief, thousands of black men and women were involuntarily sterilized in the 1930’s to encourage the “rational control of reproduction” to “improve society”. Although the racism back in the day was far more explicit than it is today, implicit racism happens all around us and people like Tamika Cross are the victims of this undercover racism. The flight attendant wouldn’t allow Dr. Cross to assist because they couldn’t believe (whether consciously or unconsciously) that a black woman could be a doctor because people of color are associated with lower intelligence. This incident only exemplifies the point that racism in America is firmly embedded into people’s minds and that we have a long way to go as people, and as a society. 

 

Bibliography

Tejada, C. (2016, October 14). Black Woman Doctor Told By Flight Crew They Need An 'Actual Physician' Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/10/14/black-woman-doctor-plane_n_12487212.html

Ko, L. (2016, January 29). Unwanted Sterilization and Eugenics Programs in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/unwanted-sterilization-and-eugenics-programs-in-the-united-states/

One Race or Several Species. (2007). Retrieved from http://www.understandingrace.org/history/science/one_race.html