Questlove (of the Roots) via Twitter

@questlove: Some sad ish that in 2010. This is the one cat that stops for you on 5th ave. #HIGO http://tweetphoto.com/28613646

@questlove:What choice I got when cabs pass me up? RT @nyhoop: I swear I just saw @questlove ride by me in one of those bicycle cabs on 5th Ave!

I’m not doubting the fact that in 2010 it is still difficult for a big black dude with a big black ‘fro to get a taxi in midtown.

But, you have to wonder why that still is the case with a large portion of New York City taxi drivers now being of middle eastern and African descent; the old racist white cab driver has become a fairly extinct archetype.

Presumably, three things are keeping the cabbies from picking Quest-lookin’ dudes up:

  1. The cabbies stereotype that the dark skinned person won’t have money or won’t tip.  But with the large number of “brown” drivers in NYC, in this case, the drivers would probably be looking more towards the threads the potential passenger is wearing than skin color.  They’re not stopping for guy in cut off jeans and American flag bandana either.
  2. They stereotype that the dark skinned riders want to go to the neighborhoods that won’t makes sense monetarily or it won’t be a safe.
  3. They stereotype that dark skinned riders are more likely to be violent.

The problem with this problem is that cab drivers are private industry, not bus drivers.  People make decisions based on their past experiences and personal bias all the time in business.   It is fair that if an employer has had a bad experience with graduates of a specific university, they may choose to avoid all applicants based on this stereotype. While, it is illegal to discriminate in hiring practices by race,creed, or color you can still see that this happens.  Even if it on a sub-conscious level, studies that show applicants with “white-sounding” names are called in for more interviews than those with more exotic sounding names.

That all being said, I’ve found a large portion of cabbies just to be equal oppurunity assholes.

Look at the recent scam that bilked riders out of $8.3 million by charging illegally high rates. Or, take for example the fact that in business attire during midday I spent 15 minutes trying to get a cab last Friday on Park Avenue.  In fact, I had one driver pull over, ask where I was going, and laugh in my face as he sped away.

I also think, sometimes, it is just bad luck.

My proposal: more voluntary designated taxi stands where drivers don’t select their customers.

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2 Responses

  1. Cabbies are ruthless, rude, and equal opportunity jerks; it is in the job description.

  2. If I was Questlove, I would just hire that Pedicab driver to be my personal NYC chauffeur. It would probably be a mutually beneficial arrangement, between what peddler makes and the convenience for Q. Plus, Questlove riding around in a pedicab is just awesome.

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