Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Up, Up and Away

[Media prompt] Delta Air Lines Inc. will begin diversity training for all of its flight crews after at least two widely publicized incidents where passengers said they were discriminated against or treated uncivilly on its flights … [One incident involved] physician Tamika Cross [who volunteered to help a sick passenger but] was brushed off by a flight attendant who said “Oh no sweetie, we are looking for actual physicians,” Cross said in a Facebook account of the episode that has been shared 48,000 times. Cross, who is African American, complained to the airline’s top management, which has also decided to no longer require physicians to show credentials on flights.

Up, Up and Away

La'Quishraniqua Williams could pinpoint the exact moment when she knew she wanted to be a physician. She was thirteen, and on holiday in Detroit with her mother and brother, a ten year old who claimed to be a part-time drug dealer and was known to have boasted about killing a man twice his age, a story nobody paid attention to until he was garrotted shortly after their return to Baltimore.

La’Quishraniqua’s career epiphany was less conclusive, and occurred in the living room where her mother and aunt spent all their waking hours, along with a man who had bloodshot eyes and smelled of wet dog. On the wall was a picture of Martin Luther King, looking off camera as though he’d just spied the finest piece of ass in America, and under this licentious gaze, by a stroke of fate, she flicked one night onto the Cable Medical Network. Now La'Quishraniqua Williams was nobody’s idea of sharp, but after a month sitting glued to the television she could parrot more medical terms than a white boy with a degree. By the end of their stay in Detroit, her aunt had taken to passing off her teen niece as a qualified medical practitioner, a child prodigy who had met with the president, and by playing along she had diagnosed everything from adult-onset diabetes to Zinsser disease, returning enough in fees to buy a stolen gun for her brother and three one-way tickets home by air. Her mother said it sure would beat sitting on that Greyhound bus.

At the airport, La’Quishraniqua’s mother leaned over the check-in counter and told the young man that there was a mistake with the booking. “It should be Dr. L. Williams,” she said, pointing at the screen, “not Miss.” Tap, tap. “Thank you, sweeite,” she said. “It’s not for us, you understand. Some poor soul might need a doctor on the flight.”

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