Saturday, July 21, 2007


I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine last week. I have been meaning to blog about this, but I have not been able to get around to it until tonight.

First, let me give you some background: My friend happens to be an engineer with a large consulting firm here in Philly, and she recently got an assignment to work with Honeywell down in Baltimore. Last week, after completing a job, she was waiting outside of her hotel with two white male colleagues for a cab to take her to the train station. I think you know what happens next, but I will tell you anyway. Both of her male companions hailed cabs and went on their way. My friend; not so lucky. She insisted that empty cab after empty cab kept passing her by as she waived her hands. When an elderly white lady came outside and actually hailed a cab before her, she actually went up to that particular cab driver and asked him what the problem was. The man, she said, drove off like he had seen a ghost.

Frustrated and pissed off, she went back into the hotel to complain about the cab situation. She said the young African American at the front desk knew immediately what was going on. She had a concierge hail a cab for her, and she was finally on her way, barely making it to her train on time.

But this is where the story gets interesting. With all due respect to Danny Glover, according to my friend; every one of the cabs was being driven by a black man. And not just any black man, according to her, they all seemed to be Africans or foreigners. -not sure how she could tell that but I will take her word for it- So when she finally got into the cab she asked the cab driver what gives with the lack of love from the Cabbies. He explained to her that the Cabbies don't like picking up blacks, because they complain about the meter moving too fast too much. Besides, he said, they are bad tippers, and they sometimes take the Cabbies to dangerous areas, where many have been robbed and shot. He himself was shot once before he told her. So she is telling me this, and she confesses to me that she actually felt sorry for this particular Cabbie, even though at first she had every intention of cursing his ass out when she went in his cab.

"I mean come on field isn't that sad?" she was preaching now,"I mean our own people?" "I guess so" I told her. "I really don't know what to say about that. Hey, that's why I don't take cabs. Maybe on your next assignment you can ask your company to just rent you a car." "Naw Field, I hate driving around in strange cities, I am stuck with the Cabbies." I actually felt sorry for her. " Well I tell you what; how about letting your white colleagues hail your cab for you before they take off the next time?" "Yeah good idea Field, we have actually done that before, but it just makes me seem so helpless, like I can't even get a cab for myself".

I left it at that; I didn't have the heart to tell girlfriend that in certain situations she probably can't. And this time I can't even blame whitey.


Hathor said...

I sympathize with your friend, after not getting a cab I called after being discharged from the hospital. When my son finally got a cab to stop, he didn't know where I lived or how to get there and sped away when I suggested he buy a map.I think that aggravates me more. Cabbies that don't know the city. When I first came to this city, I bought a city map to learn how to get around.

Anonymous said...

"when I first moved to this city I bought a map..." No; women aint "stupid", and dont need a GPS tracker to get around. We dont mind "asking for directions" either; that is definitely a "man disease/thing".


"...cant blame whitey..."

Lost a couple of friends who were cabbies to the "ghetto" lunacy. No; it aint always "whitey".


natural muze said...

wow. yeah, some things you can't blame on white people. this makes me sad though. our people are in such a state of turmoil...we need to start respecting and supporting each other, for real. i feel sorry for your friend and those cabbies.

field negro said...

I think the problem is twofold. Many of the cab drivers happen to be from other countries who come to America and buy into the bull shit stereoptypes-I have seen it with West Indians in my own family-And then there are those of us black folks who contribute to making the stereotypes true.

We do it by participating in ignorant ass behavior, like robbing some of these Cabbies, and stiffing them on their fares.

Anonymous said...

Off the subject...what do y'all think of this?

Sylvia said...

If she remembers what companies they are, she should call them and complain. Cab drivers in Baltimore are very cantankerous in general. After a semester where I leeched cabs from Penn Station, I've gotten all sorts of bullcrap from drivers.

The most ridiculous times are when they won't take credit cards or debit cards from black people. (I've been in cab rides where they take both from whites with broad smiles on their faces.)

I am not Star Jones said...

When I read stories about how people let the actions of a few lead to the indictment of an entire race, I always think
well, do Americans let the actions of white men like Douglas Feith, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Donald Rumsfelt
lead them to indict all white men?

Or say the actions of Wendy Vitter, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan? Do they cause the automatic indictment of all white women?

I think not.

These black cab drivers started out with a bias and are cherry picking the ones they want to practice while working and their daily lives.

(An aside: what cabdriver in America makes so much money that he/she can turn down fares? I mean enough covering rent, food, clothing and health insurance. Damn! Maybe I should get a hack license.)

I admire your friend's compassion but I'm not there yet. Here in NY, I tell a lot of black cabdrivers off with pleasure and big old smile.

And I tip if they apologize to me.

Anonymous said...

One thing on my list to do if I get filthy rich: buy cab companies in black cities who give preferences for black people....

I agree that it stems from two sources: buying into stereotypes, and black reinforcing behavior.

However, I fail to see why black person in business dress seems to fall under their scrutiny.

I also refuse to believe that white folks never stiff a taxi or rob cabbies. Call me crazy....

-Caged Lion

jameil1922 said...

not related to the post and perhaps a bit strange... but glad you didn't rag on tammy faye. most of my family met her in NC at one point or another and she's actually a really nice person.

Lola Gets said...

Actually, I think we can still blame whitey for this colored-cab-drivers-who-dont-stop-for-colored-folks phemenon. Whitey runs the country, whitey established the capitalist system. If a foriegn born person whats to achieve what we in the US deem :success", the none has to subscribe to whiteys beliefs. Its either side with the people in power, or be lumped in with the weak.

It takes a mighty strong person to buck that system.

@Jameil, et al...
Fammy Faye did seem like a genuinely nice person.


Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised at all that Field didn't rag on Tammy Faye. Even at the height of the PTL Club, it was obvious to me that she was a good person. Misguided, but good.

west coast story said...

The most blatant case of housing discrimination I ever experience was from a middle-aged black couple when I just got out of law school. They never even gave me my check back and I had to put a stop payment on it. Makes me mad to think about it.

I've been passed up by cabbies while in the company of one or more black men. Well-dressed professional men. Not that it should matter a bit. In my first and only trip to NYC, I left Grand Central Station alone and this cabbie told me outright he wouldn't take me. I got in and told him where I was going and I wasn't getting out. Asshole. I guess he thought I was turning tricks in a Central Park hotel with two large suitcases in tow. I don't even recognize the word "no" in that context. I'm not taking that crap from anyone. Oh, and he was middle eastern or something like that.

If you don't report those guys, you are part of the problem. In fact, there ought to be a web site where black folks can go to report cab companies and cab numbers upon getting passed up.

Christopher Chambers said...

The cab commissions are actually pretty good at threating someone's hack medallion but you must be a squeaky wheel and even when they drive off, take down as many numbers as possible...even LIE to the commission (that the dude called you a name, or said they don't take blacks, blah blah, even when they didn't). OK that's bad, but it gets their attention. Africans and Middle Eastern folks have picked up on the two sources of crap beamed out there: white folks images and bull and the ones we ourselves allow.

The latter is more controversial. Caged Lion will now likley attack me again. hahahah. Coons out there (I include many rappers, athletes, thugs, hookers, etc. etc.--yes Caged Lion, often its low class black folks messing it up for us all) are ruining even getting a cab for many of us. Indeed in Balto., many cab passengers are sisters using public assistance vouchers to transport they and their brood to wherever.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

When I'm traveling, (especially in NYC) the African cab drivers do that crap on the regular.

I can hail a white cabbie before a brotha will pick me up. My strategy is to stand in front of the hotel and tip the concierge to get the cab for me.

You're right, Field - some things we can't control. But we can remind our foreign African brothas that if live was so damned good in the motherland, why the hell are they here in America - and mocking US because we're not pure African bred?

Whitey doesn't care cause we all look a like and those African cabdrivers will soon learn that lesson, most painfully, I might add.

field negro said...

"In fact, there ought to be a web site where black folks can go to report cab companies and cab numbers upon getting passed up."

Mmmm, that light you see is the bulb in my head going on :)

If someone beats me to this idea will you at least split the profits with me?

west coast story said...

Well, it WAS a hint, FN. Run with it.

Anonymous said...

CC, I am in agreement with you on this.

On my last business trip to New York, I was very wary of the cab thing, but it surprisingly didn't happen. None of my cabbies were african, though.

I've had some bad times in DC, however. This was years ago, and Field, I actually tried to start a "gripe" website about it, where people could chime in. But the world wasn't ready. You should go for it.

Caged Lion

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

I've moved to a part of Brazil where virtually everyone is Black. The cabs are lined up waiting for fares and I really doubt anyone has difficulty getting a cab.

Cab driver were nice to me when I spent a week in Paris a few years back. I think a lot of people don't realize how much worse it is for Black people in the United States that it is in a lot of other places.

I lived in France and Italy and drove fast for three years without ever being stopped by police. Not once! But, during a trip to the US for ONE WEEK, ONE WEEK! I was stopped TWICE.

Today, I told my wife (Afro-Brazilian) about Hot Ghetto Mess today, and I wanted to show her the outrageously offensive pictures so she could see how offensive they were.

She refused. She said she's already angry enough at the United States, and hearing me talk about the injustices just makes her angrier still.

I can't really argue with that. Why should she look at something that I've already told her is deeply offensive to Black people? She'd have to be a masochist!

Liz said...

I was in Minneapolis last Tuesday for work and the Ethiopian cabdriver told me he was not black (in response to my question about how he feels about racism in America) and then launched in to the same ole same ole about how lazy black Americans are. He also told me I was going to hell because I'm not a Christian. Thank goodness he didn't have a choice about picking me up because I was coming from the airport and the cabbies are assigned.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...


Girlfriend, you're better than me, because I would have asked dude:

(a) how did he know if I was a Christian or not;

(b) why was he so sure I'm going to hell? Did he have a plan to be at the gates awaiting my arrival?

And since he's Ethiopian, he will really get pissed when he's subjected to racial treatment. He's claim to being Ethiopian will not help him at all.

You would think when African foreigners get treated as crappy as American-born Negroes have been for the last 400 years, they would be empathetic, but NO, they're too busy trying to distinguish themselves from US and white people could care less.

Liz said...

Christian Progressive Liberal,

I was trying to leave him alone on all that "Africans are better" mess because I just didn't feel like hearing the whole diatribe but he would not shut up about it. "We come here with nothing and make our way. Your people have opportunity and throw it away." I told him that things aren't always what they seem and how sure, folks get a free education here but they may get a teacher that tells not to come to class or tells them they'll never amount to anything. So we debated that for a minute.

I was getting ready to call my mom and talk to her so I didn't have to talk to him anymore when he asked if I was a Christian. I told him that no, I am a Baha'i. He got all, "Oh, too bad for you." I asked him why it was too bad for me and that's when he told me that I was going to hell, "Which seems like such a shame since you seem like a nice young lady."

His eye started to twitch when I told him that I believe heaven and hell are not physical places, but rather spiritual realities -- allegories for nearness and remoteness from God so when we die, the condition of our souls determines our experience in the afterlife. He said I was misguided and doomed to burn so I told him to pray for me because I don't argue about religion since it should be a source of love and unity. I'm used to being told that kind of stuff, been hearing it since I was a kid so whatever. It just amazes me how folks really think their self-righteousness is helping anything.

xoites said...

I am from Baltimore. The underlying problem in this situation may have more to do with the way African Americans tip in this town. More than half do not. It may be more than that but even at half it means a cab driver, waite person or pizza deliverer will get stiffed half the time. Now a cab driver has to pay a daily rental fee before he or she starts making money and depending which company you work for it can be quite steep. A pizza deliverer drives his own vehicle, pays for all expenses and get minimum wage plus TIPS (To Insure Prompt Service). A waitpersong gets LESS than minimum wage plus tips.

If most men in a community did not tip only women would be considered a desirable customer. Everybody who works has X amount of time per day to make a living and pay the bills.

I think if people would become more educated about how the people around them that they rely on for service actually make a living people would realize that tipping is important. At least until we can create an economic system that is built on concepts such as justice, fair play and social equality.

Anonymous said...

I find it quite interesting that some posters felt bad about not being able to blame whitey. Well, I'm white. So now I know that the predisposition position of the black man and woman is to blame whitey. Hell, I blame whitey. But not just whitey. I blame RICH whities. I'm po' white trash. I haven't caught a break from no one, ever. So when you blame whitey blame the right whities, the right wing KKK Rethuglican mofos and not me, a liberal white who works with black people and, heaven forbid, likes them. And I'm a Texan! Remember, King George was born in New Haven. He is NOT a Texan. He plays a Texan and does it very poorly.

Just interesting to know that blacks automatic response is to blame whitey. Man, if y'all would get that shit out of your brains you might be able to get on with it, whatever it is.

Anonymous said...

Aside from using your pseudo intellect and few things you have learned in school, you don’t know nor have the experience of what is like to be a cabbie. Cab business is just like any other business. You make decisions every day based on your experiences and knowledge hoping your decision is sound. To make it short, cabbies do this to make money and leave morals and ethics at the door before they come in that cab. I myself a cabbie, come to work to make money and I am well aware of race and ethnicity-(and make no mistake, I sympathize with black people) but I am not in this business to be another mother Therese. Why pick up a poor person regardless of their race, and transport them to a place I would not want to live myself? Knowing even if that person is very nice, they don't have the means to afford the ride let alone tip me? I know your answer is obvious, it is my job and I chose to do this, therefore I have to take the good with the bad and accept reality Period. bluh bluh. Well, everyone makes business decision and my case is not unique. I do this to be a make as much money as possible with the limited time. Call me a greedy but don't call me Uncle Tom cause I pick up whites and middle class people in general because their wallets are another zip code whereas blacks or poor people in particular have had tough day at the work or don't have the means to pay the fare and let alone tip the driver.

Anonymous said...

Anon white guy,

If you think you have never caught a break, you are just another blind american. Sometimes not being disadvantaged is just as valuable as getting privileges. Look at the current topic. If you have ever caught a cab without wearing a disguise or resorting to a ruse, you are 5 steps ahead of the average black person.

To anon cabbie,

I don't call you an uncle tom as much as an unashamed and unabashed criminal. I wonder how many other ethical and legal lines you are willing to cross for the almighty dollar. There are plenty of hardworking people who never break the law or their morals to succeed.

-Caged Lion

plez... said...

call me old fashioned, but how in the HELL did TWO MEN go out, hail their respective cabs, and ride away leaving a woman alone on the curb? i would think that it would be common courtesy to give the FIRST CAB that stopped to the lady (regardless of her race)!

on a side note: i travel a lot for my job and i ALWAYS rent a car... i'm a big & tall (6'4") black guy, i ain't expecting anyone to stop for me! *smile*

rikyrah said...

Wierd coincidence. Had this conversation with my closest Sistafriend just a couple of days ago. She has absolutely no qualms with asking random White people to hail her a cab and do the bait and switch. I was like, ' you mean a White person you know', and she was, ' nope. Any Whitey will do'.

I LOL when she said it. She said, why even let THAT upset your blood pressure. It is what it is, get in the cab after the bait and switch, and then DARE the cabbie to say #*$& to you.

So, tell your friend that ANY White person will do, and not to stand waiting for a cab ever again.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...


LOL on that one! It's similar to the strategy I use when I'm on the road - get a white concierge to hail that cab!

No muss, no fuss, no bother.

Liz, I have to continue giving you props because I would have been writing down the cabbie's information and planning to report him the minute I could whip out my cell phone.

I probably would have reported him while he was still driving me to my destination.

To Anon. Cab driver - I know you need to make that paper, but you need people like me to give you that business of picking up fares. How do you know because your fare is an African-American, that they're going to stiff you on a tip?

Like all service workers, I'm going to tip you according to what's expected (15%) and you might get more if I'm given good service. In New York, some establishments are already including the tip for the server, which I disagree with, because if I'm given piss poor service, the waiter or waitress still gets a tip, anyway. And there's a space on the bill to add to the tip already calculated!

That takes away my choice to give a tip or not (I usually do, but if I'm given piss-poor service, or if I have a wait-person with a funky attitude, I'm tipping in accordance with said attitude as well). In my New York experience, I got piss-poor service, so when I saw my bill already calculated the tip, I saw no reason to give an additional gratuity, and actually asked the waiter did he deserve anything more, considering he took fifteen minutes before taking my order, brought the food cold, and got pissed when I returned it for hot food, and never refilled my water glass or beverage (while I saw others getting refills, hot food and good service).

So, a pox on your house for trying to get your hustle on, no matter how many of us you crap on to get there. Come back and tell us how many whites stiffed you on a tip when you take them to Westchester County, okay?

Drew said...

It's not always immigrants who "buy into the stereotypes." I waited tables for 7 years and on numerous occasions witnessed some of my African-American co-workers(born and raised) try to pass off a table of African Americans to another server. In *general* (admitted generalization) tables of African Americans did not tip as well. This was my and my co-workers' (black/white/whatever) *general* experience. So when my black co-workers did this were they stereotyping? Yeah, they were. But it wasn't because they sold out and bought the lie that "whitey" was telling. It was because their experience prejudiced them in this way.

And Lola: I'm not exactly sure where you were going with the comment concerning capitalism being a "white" system, but those are some deep waters. I don't know you or your views on the matter, so I don't want to assume anything, but you seem to be implying that capitalism is inherently biased against blacks. Western civilization is primarily a result of "whitey's" thinking (with diverese influences, of course.) It is obviously far from a perfect form of civilization. That whole conversation is too much for this one comment, but my point is that Western Civ's positives outweight it's negatives, in my opinion, and I guess most people who choose to still live in a country governed by principles derived from it would agree. Much (not all of course) of modern medicine is a result of the efforts of white people. I say all of this only to say that I'm not sure that the mere fact a system was implented or generated by white people, justifies tracing back all possible negative outcomes of said system back to white indifference (or malice) towards other races. And though you didn't explicitly say as much, I inferred it from what you wrote. Maybe I read into it too much. I do that sometimes.

Anyway, interesting post FN.

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