Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cabbie discrimination

I saw this on FOX5 Washington DC last night, and decided to pick it up this morning.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - When you stick your hand out, you expect the cab to stop. But there’s a certain type of guy out there who feels like he’s always getting passed by.
So DC cabbies are biased; that's the gist of the story. Not surprisingly, black DC residents are pissed:
“I get upset when they don’t stop, but then, it’s hard to take a taxi when you’re black,” says Craig Brown from Southeast Washington.
Says the man from one of the most violent places in the country. More on that in a minute.
“It’s too hard to get a cab in D.C. because D.C. is biased,” says Man Thomas from Northeast D.C.
A growing number of black men in the District say an age-old problem is getting worse.
"You'll flag down and they go past you,” Brown says. “Then they'll stop down the street for a white person."
Now that we have the meat and potatoes out there, I wanted to point out something. FOX News sent two of their folk - one black guy and one white dude - out into the streets of Washington to find out if it's true. And what did they find? That cabbies do indeed pass the black guy in favor of the white guy.

To this I have to say. . . .Duh!!

Now, I'm no bigot, but I have to call foul here. FOX did allow this one teensy weensy little thing in there when they asked the cabbies why they favor white fares:
Price is the Chairman of the D.C. Professional Taxicab Drivers Association. He says many taxi drivers do discriminate because they’ve told him they’re afraid of being robbed.
If FOX News was really fair and balanced, they would not have ignored the elephant in the room. What do black men have to do with cabbies being afraid of getting robbed? Why are they making that sort of connection? The fact is that there are almost twice as many violent black felons than violent white felons, and there are a bonafide twice as many black murderers as white murderers in the US prison system, judging from data from 1990 - 2002. A group of people who make up 13 percent of the population committed 41 percent of the violent crime in that period, and 54 percent of the robberies.

So cabbies find that driving past a "certain type of guy" in the 54 percent category to pick up a white guy in the 17 percent category means better odds of not getting robbed? Simple math says that their odds of living through the day improve with this behavior, as horrible as that may sound.

Why has this not been addressed, and why is this not something that is being fixed?

It's a shame that cabbies are discriminating, and I'm not saying it's right, but I am saying that they shouldn't be getting the brunt of the anger when nobody has addressed the real problem: why is the violent crime rate so high amongst young, black males, and how can this be changed?

There has been pressure to make cabbies not discriminate with training, sting operations and the like - but it's not hard to point out that that could cause unintended consequences.

Cabbies don't wake up in the morning and decide "Gee, I feel like a racist today. I think I'll piss off the black folk because I'm such a hater." They also don't wake up one day and realize that what they do can get them hurt or killed. Maybe they have developed this dirty habit because they have been perpetually robbed by "a certain type of guy" who fits into a certain type of demographic that nobody wants to address because it's too hard. Perhaps someone at FOX News should survey cabbies to find out the demographics of the perpetrators who have robbed cab drivers. Perhaps someone at FOX News should cast a light on a root problem that is causing cab drivers to racially discriminate. That will add some weight to the other side of this story.
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