For those unfamiliar with the story, which I won’t explain in detail, a Delta passenger by the name of Tamika Cross went to social media recently posting about how a Flight Attendant discriminated against her in a medical emergency because of her gender and color, telling Cross that her services weren’t needed at the time.
I read a comment on a thread somewhere where a fellow Doctor, who graduated from the same institution as Ms. Cross, remarked that she is an, “extremely kind, honest and qualified individual.” But, in the same sentiment, the Doctor mentioned that Ms. Cross’ overarching intention is to, “make sure the flight attendant is fired.”
Those last few words are precisely the wrong way to resolve this situation in a manner where everyone wins.
By calling for the FA’s head, everyone loses.
You have to remember that in moments like this, where tensions are elevated, the stakes are high and emotions can run wild, a FA has to be able to think quickly on her feet. When there are 100+ people exposed to a potentially lethal situation in a small, compressed tube at 40,000 feet, the last thing they want is panic and pandemonium to break loose in a medical emergency.
As such, yes, sometimes prejudices can arise. We cannot negate that and especially not excuse the flight attendant IF, and that’s a big IF, there were some unintentional biases that caused the series of events to happen.
But really, what good comes out of FIRING the flight attendant? Destroying her life and her career for doing what she could to save a patient’s life?!?!
If I were Tamika Cross, I would approach this situation from a much more affirming perspective rather than from anger and malice. About how it is crucial for the FA to remove herself from unintentional biases in moments like this when every precious second wasted second-guessing can be a life or death scenario. About how there are still problems when it comes to race/gender and she should have known better. And, coming from a female to another female, that can be very powerful, constructive and healing all at the same time.
But FIRING her?
What good does that do?
Tamika Cross, I hate to say it, has dug herself into a grave with this whole mess. She could have pursued this quietly with Delta, provided some didactic lessons for leadership and FA’s to learn from the situation, made amends, and walked away leaving the world in a better place. Instead, she went public with this and may be risking her career. I side with her, and I feel pained by what she experienced, but I cannot side with her in the manner in which she handled everything.
It has unfortunately created greater pain for everyone involved, including herself.
There was room for her to follow the example, “when they go low, we go high.” Instead, she decided, “they went low, and I’m going to blow.”
Ms. Cross, if you are reading this, my heart goes out to you. Believe me, I have been a victim of discrimination and bias many times in my life. I won’t list the examples here, because that wouldn’t do justice to this post. I’d rather have you message me personally so we could dialogue about it in a manner that is cathartic and constructive. I would not doubt for a second that you possess the wisdom to rebound, learn and grow from this unacceptable situation.
But, remember that the Flight Attendant is also a human. Much like yourself, humans make mistakes. Forgiveness goes a long way. Use this as a means to an end, not an end in itself.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on this post. I encourage you, however, to do so from a place of good intention and not anger. I welcome any counterpoints.