Uber Versus Taxi Cab Racism

by on October 6, 2016 at 7:28 am in Economics, Film, Travel | Permalink

Film maker Charles Mudede, a black Zimbabwean living in the United States, is thrown back into the racist past by a visit to Vancouver.

Vancouver B.C. does not have Uber or Lyft, the ridesharing service I mainly use in Seattle and New York City…the absence of ridesharing companies in Vancouver has meant the persistence of a problem that, in my experience, pretty much vanishes from the surface of things when you have an account with Uber or Lyft: taxi cab racism….I had all but forgotten this form of racism until this weekend, when I found myself in downtown Vancouver unable to hail a cab. They just simply passed by me, though many were not engaged. At first I thought I was not visible enough to drivers, but after a few cabs passed by my increasingly theatrical waving, I remembered the color of my skin.

It’s important to note that many of the taxi drivers were not white but South Asians—some who were even blacker than me. But when it comes to taxi racism, the color of the driver often does not matter. White racism, in this sector, has been adopted, sometimes even intensified, by all other races, many of which have been and still are the victims of white racism. Even in Seattle, when Yellow Cab was the top dog, East African drivers would pass by me because I looked like them. All of that nonsense came to an end with ridesharing, whose apps made hailing unnecessary.

The author, it’s worth noting, is not a fan of neoliberalism:

The sad thing is that much of my thinking is strongly opposed to the sharing economy because the society in which its modes are expressed, a neoliberal society, results, for one, in the encroachment of the “entrepreneurial spirit” into all aspects of our lives.

So give him credit for grudgingly acknowledging one important benefit.

1 derek October 6, 2016 at 7:44 am

This is funny. If I try to hail a cab in Vancouver, lily white guy, they won’t stop either. Use your damn phone and they will come to pick you up.

2 Axa October 6, 2016 at 7:53 am

Never been to Vancouver, how do taxis work? Are they on fixed positions waiting and then either you take one there or call them to pick you up? I mean, in many places around Earth taxis don’t stop in the middle of the street to pick you up.

3 derek October 6, 2016 at 8:00 am

Yes. But a great racism story is worth making up.

4 Thiago Ribeiro October 6, 2016 at 8:25 am

The unwritten rule is they can’t turn you down you can see the white of heir eyes. I live next to a cab stand, so they can not refuse me.

5 hueshi October 6, 2016 at 10:05 am

There’s an extreme shortage of taxis in Vancouver, at 0.24 per 1000 residents, compared to 1.3 taxis per thousand people in Montreal, 1.2 in Toronto and 1.4 in Calgary. (http://www.bcbusiness.ca/vancouver-has-fewer-taxis-than-any-other-canadian-city) And even those other cities have – or had, pre-ridesharing – a serious insufficiency of cabs, especially at busy times.

Not only do you generally have to call to get a cab, but if your route is short or takes the cab out of the way, you’ll be waiting a long time. When I lived in Vancouver for two years, I did not take a cab a single time, despite the fact that I don’t have a driver’s license. It’s just not worth waiting forty-five minutes so you can pay $30 to go a few kilometers. Cabs are for drunks in groups of 4 who don’t live near rapid transit.

6 Banned Norse Warrior October 6, 2016 at 11:23 am

You should try Arequipa, Peru. 20 to 30K taxis in a city of about a million. In 2010, the typical 5-10 minute taxi ride was S3-5, i.e. $1-2. That is ride sharing. Uber and Lyft is simply a ripoff with a discount relative to the taxi monopoly.

7 hueshi October 6, 2016 at 11:28 am

Ah, but does Arequipa have bars where you can enjoy being ignored by a moustachioed waiter for twenty minutes, and then pay $8 for a pint of domestic beer? I don’t think so! Advantage, Vancouver!

8 White Guy in Munich October 6, 2016 at 8:01 am

Yeah I spent half an hour trying to hail a cab on the street in Munich yesterday. Probably ten passed before one stopped.

9 Cliff October 6, 2016 at 8:24 am

Why don’t you buy a car and become a cuck like me?!

10 Axa October 6, 2016 at 8:35 am

Yes, in any city with relatively good transport organization taxis wait at taxi stands. You can pick up one there or call one by phone. Being able to hail an empty taxi just passing by means the driver is getting tired to find clients (grumpy driver) while making traffic and polluting. Order existed before Uber…

11 Stephen October 6, 2016 at 10:58 am

Many large American cities don’t have ‘taxi stands’ besides at airports.

12 Bob from Ohio October 6, 2016 at 11:14 am

“Many large American cities don’t have ‘taxi stands’ besides at airports.”

Sure they do. Look at the larger hotels. There will always be some cabs there.

13 Daniel Weber October 6, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Ironic, because the one thing taxis can do that Uber cannot is pick up hails on the street.

14 Silas Barta October 6, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Never attribute, to bigotry, that which can be explained by misanthropy.

15 Ron October 10, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Funny, and has a point. But that would cover everything except express racism, so I can’t adopt it in toto.

16 Pshrnk October 6, 2016 at 10:57 am

” White racism, in this sector, has been adopted, sometimes even intensified”

To imply that Asians had to adopt white racism because they couldn’t have created it on their own is grotesquely racist.

17 hueshi October 6, 2016 at 11:07 am

No, it was just more efficient to outsource domestic bigotry manufacturing to racism factories in Asia. You get twice the racism at a quarter of the price! Thanks, comparative advantage.

18 Sir Barken Hyena October 6, 2016 at 12:15 pm

And freely asserted without evidence, as always. It’s just “what everyone knows”.

19 Brian October 6, 2016 at 1:17 pm

Mr. Mudede hates capitalism and blames white people for all the world’s injustice. And then he complains that a regulated monopoly won’t service him because white people made brown people racist.

He deserves to walk everywhere for the rest of his life. No one would ever give him a ride in the world he wants to force on the rest of us. And he hates us for making things better for him.

20 Vancouverite October 6, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Lived in Vancouver, can confirm this.

It’s a combination of

1. Acute shortage of taxis.

2. Taxis from the airport that drop off but cannot pick up

I’m entirely willing to believe cab drivers are racist. However, catching a taxi at night is extremely difficult regardless of your skin color.

21 derek October 6, 2016 at 8:20 am

Isn’t the real story here how an American academic fell for a racism story which confirmed more than one prior?

22 MOFO October 6, 2016 at 9:10 am

The author of this story is Alex.

23 JWatts October 6, 2016 at 9:54 am

“The author of this story is Alex.”

It’s JAMRC, he’s a troll. And facts are orthogonal to his commentary. You’ll note that he didn’t bother to admit that he was wrong or apologize. He just lobbed a different insult at two other people.

24 Pensans October 6, 2016 at 8:28 am

Yeah, I tried to get a cab in Zimbabwe and they stole my farm, killed my family because we are white. But Vancouver sounds kind of worse.

25 Thiago Ribeiro October 6, 2016 at 9:13 am

I guess you don’t have to worry about living in imbabwe anymore — neither does your family.

26 Keith October 6, 2016 at 9:25 am

+1. Well played

27 Sam Haysom October 6, 2016 at 11:45 am

Yea but your family was teaching Asians to be racist so you kind of had it coming.

28 TMC October 6, 2016 at 8:46 am

“White racism, in this sector, has been adopted, sometimes even intensified, by all other races”

Because white folks made up racism, and all racism stems from white folks.

29 Cliff October 6, 2016 at 8:52 am

Seriously, what a joke. The guy should try going to Japan. Did they get their racism from whites too?

30 Brian October 6, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Well, ask Commodore Perry. Japan didn’t have racism until he brought vibrant diversity to the country in 1853.

31 EverExtruder October 6, 2016 at 1:45 pm

You really should think before speaking. The Ainu of Hokkaido have been systematically victimized and their population reduced for a thousand years by the native Japanese.

32 Brian October 6, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Hokkaido wasn’t part of Japan in 1853. It was annexed in 1868.

33 Lukas October 6, 2016 at 8:57 am

Yes, it is funny.

Actually it is kind of racist of him to assume they have adopted some special kind of white racism. White people are to blame, when blacks/arabs/asian discriminate.
Maybe they are just racist of themselves. Or maybe they just running their taxi-business based on experience. Or maybe there is another reason he didn’t get a ride – like the fact, that it is normal to wait for a taxi if you just stand there.

34 asd October 6, 2016 at 10:22 am

a d perhaps there is a stereotype effect going on (that doesn’t require history of white racism nor does it require that not to be the case). Uber/Lyft reducing stereotypes is how i read the observation.

fyi stereotypes are underrated


but obviously create harmful false positives. more data reduces need for stereotypes and helps everyone. it’s also why say “banning the box” hurts black applicants generally because without that data stereotypes kick in

i’m not very committed to steroetypes underrated argument but it’s something i’ve run across and looks neat but have not verified it

35 Cliff October 6, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Try googling “The Unbearable Accuracy of Stereotypes”

36 Keith October 6, 2016 at 9:30 am

Yeah I noticed that too. This guy sounds like a tool. I hope it rained a lot when he was waiting for the cab.

37 steve October 6, 2016 at 9:35 am

Yeah, that line is preposterous. Not sure how you deliver that with a straight face.

Academics write stuff like this then act shocked and appalled when some white people embrace the racialism they’ve spend decades laying the groundwork for.

38 BC October 6, 2016 at 10:16 am

Whites don’t cause non-white racism, but anti-racist academics cause white racism? Got it.

39 Steve October 6, 2016 at 10:46 am

The first point is an obvious fact. I don’t agree with the second point as you’ve stated it; there’s obviously a lot of white racism that has nothing to do with academic discourse. But a constant focus on race as the defining factor of social interaction is going to increase white racial awareness and self-identification. And given the number of white individuals who have not seen the dividends of whiteness and don’t particularly appreciate being blamed for all injustice both historical and present, I can’t see this as a positive thing.

Not everyone is trained to brush lines like the ones in the piece as a nonsense rhetorical flourish. Race is useful for understanding certain things, but it’s an artificial, damaging, flattening construct whose injudicious use poisons.

40 EverExtruder October 6, 2016 at 9:47 am

Ding ding ding.

I have traveled the entire world and it still boggles my mind that so many people think of whites as fundamental racists, the inventors of racism, or inventors of slavery. White racism is comparatively mild in comparison to what I have seen among the other cultures of this world, and not just black vs. everyone else, but even within sub-cultures of the same ethnicity.

Interestingly, Africa is by far the worse. The internecine hatred some African tribes hide just under the surface (but sometimes not all that well) for other black Africans is something everyone should see for themselves. It explains al lot when you consider most of Africa’s slaves were sold into bondage by their own countrymen…

41 Josh October 6, 2016 at 10:27 am

By any objective criterion, aren’t white people the least racist people to ever walk the earth?

42 JoshL October 6, 2016 at 10:28 am

Modern white people I mean.

43 EverExtruder October 6, 2016 at 11:27 am

Not an exact quote from Niall Ferguson, but no civilization has made the “killer apps” of Western Civilization so accessible to the world’s people for their own betterment accept Western Civilization. Although Western Civilization is not exactly “white” it is predominantly so, especially for the last 500 years or so.

All humans can take credit to some degree, but the world is definitely a much better place overall because of the contributions of white people full stop. Every other model encountered, whether through conquest or contact, has seen the advantages and made conscious choices to adopt the “killer apps” of Western Civ.

44 Larry Siegel October 9, 2016 at 1:15 am

When was Western civilization not white? Until African Americans (whose participation in Western civilization was not entirely voluntary) became a force in world culture, it was entirely white, except for the contributions of a handful of North Africans who made their way into Greek, Roman, and medieval European life.

45 Thor October 6, 2016 at 12:30 pm

Don’t you remember Susan Sontag?

“The white race is the cancer of human history. It is the white race and it alone – its ideologies and inventions – which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself.”

46 Cliff October 6, 2016 at 1:36 pm

I would agree that it threatens the very existence of life. But it also makes possible something more than living and dying like animals until extinction.

47 Dynamic Array October 6, 2016 at 1:38 pm

That name could use a few parenthesis.

48 BBurke October 6, 2016 at 9:07 am

Just wanted to point out that a lot of racism exists between different ethnic groups in Asia and Africa, and it in no way originated it with them ‘adopting’ it from white people in north America.

49 Floccina October 6, 2016 at 9:10 am

Being able to rate the customer greatly reduce the reason to statistically discriminate.

50 Recursive Representation October 6, 2016 at 10:07 am

Precisely. It’s remarkable how well the ratings system has worked. When it started years ago with Ebay, I thought for sure that it wasn’t going to work.

51 nomenym October 6, 2016 at 9:42 am

Headline: “Brown man maybe racist toward black man, whites blamed”

52 hueshi October 6, 2016 at 10:09 am

“Privileged bourgeois bon-vivant sneers at working-class customs, neoliberalism at fault”

53 Eric Rasmusen October 6, 2016 at 9:48 am

I was going to suggest doing a study to see whether Uber drivers were mugged more, but then I realized it wouldn ‘t be useful, because another advantage of Uber is that not only are riders safe because drivers are registered, drivers are safe from riders because riders are registered.

Plus, the no-tips policy makes targetting passengers based on demographics and average tipping unimportant.

54 Alex Tabarrok October 6, 2016 at 10:36 am

Even more important, the UBER drivers don’t carry cash as part of their job.

55 Ricardo October 6, 2016 at 11:00 am

I always tip my Uber driver.

Incidentally, you are all missing the obvious story here. Vancouver is a self-absorbed city that riots whenever their hockey team comes close to greatness and then predictably falls short… the taxi drivers are merely projections of this attitude. Give me Calgary any day.

56 poorlando October 6, 2016 at 12:29 pm

I never tip my Uber driver, and not having to (for now) is part of why I like Uber. The practice of tipping needs to be done away with, as it is out of control in the US. The Japanese don’t tip, and will even refuse tips, and yet service is much better over there. Even in European countries where there is tipping, it is much more restrained.

57 Thiago Ribeiro October 6, 2016 at 3:33 pm

So what? Soviets (usually refused tips- at least, for most of their history) and service was notoriously bad.

58 Andrew M October 6, 2016 at 10:03 am

I’ve only been to Vancouver a couple of times, but I didn’t see a whole lot of black people there. According to Wikipedia, just 1% of Vancouverites are of African origin. Is it rational for taxi drivers to discriminate against just 1% of the population, who, being Canadians, aren’t likely to belong to the poor underclass in the same way as African-Americans?

59 Lord Action October 6, 2016 at 10:42 am

It’s hard to find data (there are lots of mainstream newspaper articles suggesting it’s suppressed), but it seems that black crime rates are much higher than white crime rates in Canada.


60 8 October 7, 2016 at 10:21 am

This question makes sense to a white person, especially an American one who has lived in a country that was biracial for 350 years. It doesn’t not make sense to Asians or South Asians who think 0% blacks is the best number.

61 Jack October 6, 2016 at 10:08 am

The driver was probably afraid that the passenger might try to pay him with Zim dollars

62 The Other Jim October 6, 2016 at 10:10 am

I give him credit for nothing.

Dark-skinned people are being racist to him, and he refers to it as…. “adopting white racism.” Sorry Spanky, this has absolutely nothing to due with white people, as much as you desperately want it to.

I hope that the “entrepreneurial spirit” that makes all of our lives better every day completely passes you by.

63 Boris_Badenoff October 6, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Agreed. It’s complete BS. Uber/Lyft drivers also have the advantage of traceable fares, not carrying cash, and setting their own hours and areas of service.

There are many reasons an otherwise unengaged taxi might ignore a person trying to hail them besides racism. They could be off duty & on the way home, forbidden by company or local policy from taking such fares, or simply legitimately concerned about the incidence of robbery in an area. Or no reason at all.

Unless these cabs are ignoring him to pick up similarly attired white fares down the block, the only racism is in the author’s imagination – and tells us a great deal about his mindset.

64 Jeff R. October 6, 2016 at 10:10 am

The sad thing is that much of my thinking is strongly opposed to the sharing economy because the society in which its modes are expressed, a neoliberal society, results, for one, in the encroachment of the “entrepreneurial spirit” into all aspects of our lives.

It’s okay, he can still complain about the racism of Airbnb.

65 Recursive Representation October 6, 2016 at 10:12 am

African-Canadians are likely to fall mostly into two groups: (1) those who qualified for entry under the Canadian points system for immigration and are therefore likely to be skilled workers of some means; and (2) those who came as refugees, who might be just the opposite. In any case, if there are only about 1 percent blacks in Vancouver, it suggests the costs of discriminating against them would be small because you forgo only a small share of the potential market. (I grew up in Vancouver, but haven’t lived there for years, so I cannot verify whether the proportion of blacks there is as small as 1 percent; it certainly was when I lived there long ago.)

66 Horhe October 7, 2016 at 7:14 am

You forgot family reunification. The fact that you are a skilled immigrant does not mean that regression to the mean did not apply for your extended family who got in a little while after you. I read a report through a Vdare link (an older one, mind you) where only 20% of the visas came in on the points systems, the rest were family reunification.

67 Li Zhi October 6, 2016 at 10:13 am

Give him credit? For broadly condemning an entire city’s taxi drivers based on what? a single person’s experience on a single night? Or should we give him credit for his assumption of victimhood and lack of follow-up with any of the available drivers who passed him by? He could have taken down numbers, times and locations and pursued it – but that would have required time and effort, better to just assume the worst, raise the flag of racism and victimhood and go about his business, smug in knowing he’s better than they are. Of course, there can be no other explanation than racism. Can’t be they pegged him as an American tourist, can’t be that an APB was just issued by the local police for a man fitting his description, can’t be that he was staggering drunk, right? The only (reasonable) explanation is that Vancouver’s taxi drivers are mostly racists. How big a study would be required to validate his accusation? How many pairs of physically matched men in identical clothes, one of each pair white, the other black? How many locations? How many attempts to flag a taxi down? On what days, at what times? Sounds like an easy undergraduate paper for a local Psych/Soc department.

68 hueshi October 6, 2016 at 10:19 am

If it was a weekend afternoon or evening, most of the cabs were almost certainly “engaged”, even if they didn’t currently have passengers. They go directly to the clubbing and restaurant areas to pick up fares and don’t stop for street hails. He would have found this out, if he’d asked literally anyone from Vancouver.

69 dsgntd_plyr October 6, 2016 at 10:26 am

“It’s important to note that many of the taxi drivers were not white but South Asians—some who were even blacker than me. But when it comes to taxi racism, the color of the driver often does not matter. White racism, in this sector, has been adopted, sometimes even intensified, by all other races, many of which have been and still are the victims of white racism.”

so south asian racism is the fault of white people. got it.

70 dearieme October 6, 2016 at 10:37 am

Why was a black man trying to commit cultural appropriation of a taxi cab?

71 anon October 6, 2016 at 10:53 am

I don’t have any experience with BC taxis, so I can’t comment on that. I think Alex is right in his framing regardless: If Uber reduces real (or perceived) discrimination, that is a good arising from the marketplace and neoliberalism.

But I think those of you going to great lengths to pretend there is no racism, or racism is real but isn’t your fault, or black people shouldn’t be appropriating taxis .. reveal more than you think.

If you can’t just say “yeah, there is racism” you aren’t really combating it. You are deflecting from it. Simple as that.

72 Axa October 6, 2016 at 11:49 am

In this case it looks like the dumb tourist that fails to grasp he’s in another country. For us, there’s the internet =)

It seems there’s a regulation problem in Vancouver. It seems taxis registered in zone “A” can pick up passengers in zone “A” and deliver to zones “A”, “B” and “C”. However, they can’t pick up in zones “B” and “C”. Please read the link:

A high percentage of the fares originating at YVR go to Vancouver,” said Dhaliwal, who serves as manager of the Bel Air Taxi Group. “Currently, once those vehicles clear their trip, the only choice they have is return empty to YVR or Coquitlam even though people are waiting on the streets trying to flag one of the empty cabs.” http://www.tricitynews.com/taxi-debate-continues-1.440741

It a regulation as stupid as possible and protecting rent-seekers but not racist. Taxis can’t pick-up passengers due to license zoning and the dumb tourist sees racism. Proof that people coming from big cities (New York,Seattle) can be as provincial as a hillbilly. Once again, stupid regulation, but not racist:

“Until that bylaw changes, the number of cabs permitted to operate in the city will remain at 588 and suburban taxi drivers will be unable to drive into the city to pick up would-be patrons who are standing around waiting for rides” http://www.vancouversun.com/City+slow+changing+bylaw+allowing+suburban+cabs+into+Vancouver+taxi+association+updated/10169150/story.html

73 anon October 6, 2016 at 11:57 am

That’s reassuring, that there might be less actual discrimination going on there, but I don’t think we should neglect the social benefit of reducing perceived discrimination as well.

If Uber makes “African American customers [feel they] could catch a drama-free lift from point A to point B” that’s a benefit too.

74 Axa October 6, 2016 at 12:44 pm

If the cause of perceived discrimination is self-absorption and lack of awareness…….I wonder how Uber can help.

75 hueshi October 6, 2016 at 12:53 pm

“Are you incurious and allergic to actual research? There’s an app for that!”

76 Axa October 6, 2016 at 11:56 am

@alex tabarrok: perhaps you should look at the taxi pick up zoning restrictions side of the story. This is a great example of correlation does NOT equal causation. Mr. Mudede saw many empty taxis passing by but never imagined a regulation was the cause.

77 Jeff R. October 6, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Yes, you’re all guilty of insufficient indignation. More harumphing in the MR comments thread! That’s what will defeat racism! Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!

78 derek October 7, 2016 at 12:45 am

Sure racism exists. It wasn’t the case here. You don’t get a cab by hailing in Vancouver.

If a white American showed up in Vancouver and tried hailing a cab, then complained about it we would call them an ignorant parochial american.

Don’t make up racism. You make a fool of yourself. This gentleman slandered working people. I fail to see how that helps the cause against racism.

If you have to make it up it isn’t that big a problem.

79 hueshi October 6, 2016 at 11:01 am

I agree. To fight racism, we must privatize and deregulate all possible services and goods. If people don’t support neoliberal reforms, they’re just deflecting from their acceptance of bigotry. Simple as that.

80 anon October 6, 2016 at 11:06 am

You are one crazy (I presume) dude, but you got those words in pretty much the right order. Of course housing covenants were a neoliberal reform going in the other direction.

Gosh, maybe free markets are good and it is only when they fall to actual discrimination that they should be rejected?

81 hueshi October 6, 2016 at 11:19 am

You are missing my joke perhaps. I am pretty much an arch-neoliberal privatization maniac. If I had a spot in my house for a marble bust of Bastiat, I would get one.

I am just having fun redeploying the no-disagreement-allowed, moralistic rhetoric of supposed anti-racism, in the service of neoliberalism. I didn’t realize how easy it was! Just declare the opponents of my economic programme to be bigots, and we’ll be in Mises-topia by Tuesday.

I am particularly enjoying the comments section of the linked piece, where our correspondent Mr. Mudede is getting Starbucks-level roasted by leftie Seattleites, just for having a half-hearted good word for the Objectivists at Uber.

82 anon October 6, 2016 at 11:32 am

I hate to be serious here then, but when you use phrases like “moralistic rhetoric of supposed anti-racism, in the service of neoliberalism” you are not really choosing the best moral ground.

It is possible to be for markets and against racism, without conflict, without throwing words like “rhetoric” or “supposed.”

83 hueshi October 6, 2016 at 11:54 am

I say it that way because a large fraction of those whose are most loudly, conspicuously “anti-racist” are in fact nothing of the sort, hence the “supposed”. Quite frequently they are elite agenda-pushers who are perfectly comfortable with using racist judgements when it suits them, and shaming others for their perceived racism in the very next moment.

I lived in Seattle for some time as well, so I’ve had some time to get acquainted with Charles Mudede’s voluminous opinions. He is an excellent example of the users of this tactic. If you disagree with him, he will probably judge you to be a bigot – but he has no problem deciding on other people’s merits based on their race. And as we see from even this small writing sample, he has the amazing power to determine people’s motivations and mental states purely by observing their appearance. Prejudice for me, but not for thee!

But I can hardly single him out in the pages of The Stranger (“Seattle’s Only Newspaper”!), since in Strangerland, if you’re not down with socialism, you’re a racist – no further questions required. Totally illogical but constantly deployed. Hence the “moralistic rhetoric”. It’s a tactical pose to shame people into shutting up about your disagreements. Don’t want to raise the minimum wage? Not sure about the benefits of light rail? Want to permit more market-rate housing, rather than public housing? Congratulations: in Leftie Seattle, that makes you a racist, and probably homophobic to boot! I have no respect for this attitude, and will not grant it the legitimacy of being actual “anti-racism”. It’s not.

84 Sam Haysom October 6, 2016 at 11:56 am

anon if you practiced what you preached rhetorically then that would clean up 70 percent of the crap rhetoric on this site.

85 anon October 6, 2016 at 11:59 am

I think you dude need to step back. Because a presumption that no one could be straightforwardly, honestly, compassionately opposed to racism .. signals something. I hope it just signals tribal defense, which while bad is not the worst possible explanation.

You should really learn that when someone says “racism exists and is bad,” is is easy and correct to say “yes, racism exists is bad.”

86 anon October 6, 2016 at 12:02 pm

Ah well, when we’ve descended to the argument that “there are no real, good, or honest, anti-racists” it’s time to call it a day.

87 hueshi October 6, 2016 at 12:25 pm

[Can’t comment to the end of the comment string so I’ll do it here.]

Where on Earth did I say that “there are no good, real, honest anti-racists”? Where did I presume that? My complaint is that some people are frequently accusing others of racism with no basis in reality, while themselves engaging in racist prejudice. Charles Mudede is one of these people, though not, by far, the worst I have seen.

There *are* many honest anti-racists, and they typically do not go about casually asserting everyone else’s bigotry while ignoring their own. They understand that such behaviour, in fact, devalues the cause of opposing racism. Hence, I distinguish between real anti-racists, and those who simply hijack anti-racism for the rhetorical purpose of shutting up their critics.

Evangelical anti-gay preachers are not infrequently found to be, let us say, playing for the other team. Vocal anti-poverty campaigners are commonly seen to be misusing funds and living lavishly. Environmentalist luminaries often have conspicuously huge carbon footprints. And, of course, many hectoring “anti-racists” are themselves casually bigoted and prejudiced.

When such hypocrites say “racism exists and is bad”, they are typically using it to then conclude “…therefore you must shut up and acquiesce to my opinions on unrelated matters.” And I am under no obligation to grant them that conclusion.

88 Josh October 6, 2016 at 12:39 pm


There really were Stalinist “useful idiots”. These people really do believe that they believe what they believe they believe.

89 hueshi October 6, 2016 at 12:48 pm


Well I don’t doubt that such people exist. But I try not to psychoanalyze too much. Flat-out hypocrisy and self-contradiction is a good enough reason for me not to take people seriously or to accept their arguments. Their self-belief-belief is useful for social positioning, but otherwise not terribly interesting.

90 hueshi October 6, 2016 at 7:29 pm

Hey anon,

Well done. Accuse me of holding a position that I did not argue for, act scandalized by this invented position, declare that I need to “step back”, and then leave the conversation. Well done indeed. *That behaviour* is exactly why many people do not take accusations of racism seriously. Because they’re misused by unserious people like you as a cheap rhetorical device.

But you know that this tactic is transparent, right? People can see what you’re doing.

91 anon October 6, 2016 at 11:09 am

As an aside, independent testimony:

“It’s true, by most accounts, that Uber has made it easier for people of color to hail a ride home. For years, everyone from Danny Glover to Hannibal Buress has spoken out against the racism in the New York cab driver pool. The arrival of Uber in New York meant that, finally, African American customers could catch a drama-free lift from point A to point B.”


92 Sam Haysom October 6, 2016 at 11:54 am

It’s not a coincidence that the guy on here most addicted to screaming racial animus, anon, also hates neoliberalism. Hard left gonna racism.

93 anon October 6, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Reading comprehension: “Gosh, maybe free markets are good and it is only when they fall to actual discrimination that they should be rejected?”

Perhaps rejected wasn’t the best word though … policed?

94 Effem October 6, 2016 at 11:33 am

I’ve asked NYC taxi drivers about this in the past (most of whom are minority). The ones that admit a bias exists (never themselves, of course) say it stems from the fact that certain minority groups are less likely to tip based on past experience. Do we call this “racism” or “smart business?”

95 gregor October 6, 2016 at 11:41 am

I was browsing some “escort” sites recently (purely out of sociological curiosity, mind you) and I noticed that many of the escorts are overtly discriminatory. “No Black men,” “No AA, Sorry!” “No Black men under 30,” “No Exceptions,” and the like. Even some of the black escorts had these policies.

96 freethinker October 6, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Not just about tipping. Some groups have the reputation for crime?

97 Pithlord October 6, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Uber is likely to be one of the big issues in the provincial election in BC in 2017. The NDP is dead set against it, the (right-of-centre) Liberals are nervously supportive.

98 Pithlord October 6, 2016 at 12:58 pm

Vancouver has racial cleavages, but they aren’t like the US. Amy Chua would be a more useful guide than Ta-Nehisi Coates. There are three major ethnic groups: Sikhs, Cantonese and whites. The Chinese are the largest. Sikhs and whites dominate politics. The (large) underclass is about half white, half aboriginal. The major recent source of racial resentment has been against wealthy oversees Chinese driving the housing bubble.

99 Thor October 6, 2016 at 2:38 pm

Older Chinese immigrants are Cantonese, the newer ones are Mandarin, no? I am not an expert.

I suspect that these two immigrant groups are not in complete unanimity about everything, but I’m not sure where and when they disagree.

100 RSF October 6, 2016 at 12:59 pm

I’m a big fan of the fact that Uber can’t discriminate and I’ve see fairly frequent and quite apparent discrimination by taxis in NYC against blacks. My understanding as was also stated above is that cabs don’t want to pick up blacks because of poor tipping and far off destinations where they will struggle to find new fares. The drivers aren’t necessarily motivated by prejudice, but it’s probably hard not to feel that way when you can’t find a cab.

101 albatross October 6, 2016 at 2:12 pm

Distinguish rational and irrational discrimination. More risk of being robbed, lower probability of a tip, worse chance of picking up another fare at this guy’s destination–those are all rational reasons to discriminate. That doesn’t make them good or legal, but it does mean they’re hard to change except by somehow changing the reasons for discrimination/the incentives faced by drivers.

102 Lewis October 6, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Two years ago in Manhattan I saw this in action. My girlfriend, black, tried to hail a cab for about two minutes as I tried to get my Uber app to work (my phone was on the mend). Finally, I, white, gave up on my phone and raised my own hand. Instantly, a cab stopped. Like instantly. This really convinced me.

103 albatross October 6, 2016 at 2:09 pm

I’ve heard the claim that Uber has made it much easier for black men to get taxis in many places. I don’t know if there is strong evidence of this, however.

Intuitively, there is probably a large safety benefit both ways to having a computer somewhere recording the identities of both the driver and the passenger–if there is a problem, the police will know where to start looking–this probably makes statistical discrimination against picking up blacks less sensible for the driver. There’s also the rating system, which will cause the driver some pain if he refuses to pick up a scary-looking customer he’s supposed to pick up. Are there other elements of Uber/Lyft that make it less appealing for discrimination?

104 William Fisher October 6, 2016 at 9:26 pm

Racism is probably one of the longest lasting problems in our world. We have seen it since ancient times with slaves, and we see it even today through the exchanging of words or in the treatment of others. As far as taxi racism goes I cannot claim to know much. I have grown up in many rural areas no where near the big cities so my experience with taxi services is minimal. However, the idea of racism in the taxi services I find to be both idiotic and infuriating. Regardless of a persons skin color the driver refusing to pick up a passenger not only hurts the driver’s tip based income, but diminishes the business’s total revenue.

Now with the argument of safety I agree with Albatross’s comment. Albatross states that there is a large safety benefit with the Uber and Lyft systems which records the identities of both the driver and the passenger. Also, the system has a rating feature where passengers can rate their driver. This does eliminate some possibility of racism because the driver is less likely to not pick up a passenger because he will receive a bad review. So ideally if you wish to receive better treatment you should use one of the ride sharing services. Additionally, I feel the Uber and Lyft services should look at expanding their reaches to different countries.

105 dearieme October 7, 2016 at 10:15 am

“We have seen it since ancient times with slaves”: what makes you think that ancient slavery was run on racist lines?

106 lbc October 7, 2016 at 8:40 am

don’t know about vancouver, but black cab drivers in london, on average, are definitely racist

107 John B October 10, 2016 at 9:33 am

‘White racism’ – again the assertion that ‘racism’ is exclusively a White phenomenon and when non-White persons exhibit it, it must have been caught from White people like some sort of virus or bacterium.

The term ‘White racism’ is de facto ‘racist’.

108 Scott October 12, 2016 at 3:53 pm

It’s not racism. I’m white and unoccupied cab drivers in Vancouver have been ignoring me for years.

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