I actually made a cab driver feel guilty for racial profiling the other night. I’m quite proud of that! It’s not everyday that you help your fellow man see the error in his ways. Even less likely when minutes earlier you slammed his car door shut and yelled “TAKE ME HOME, BITCH!” at him. Before I get into that story, let me take a moment to say Rest In Peace to Guru from Gangstarr. I grew up a fan of his music, and the video above is up here not only because it’s awesome, but also because it covers the topic of cab drivers who give black men a hard time instead of just doing their jobs.
The night in question, I was leaving a screening of the film Timeless, an innovative documentary/DJ set featuring the music of another fallen hip-hop legend, J Dilla. I told one of my friends that I was going to need her to flag down a cab for me, because they do not stop for black guys late at night in DC unless they are desperate. That’s pretty much a fact, and the worst instances seem to always involve African cab drivers. As a result of my years of negative experiences, I realized it’s much easier to get a sober ride home if I send a female friend or a white one(they stop the fastest when it’s someone female AND white) out there to hail a cab for me. Once they pull over, I just jump in like “Ha! Gotcha!” and then head home to get some sleep.
The first cab driver that pulled up wound his window down and asked “Where are you going?” The fellow was dark skinned, in his 40’s and had a strong, deep accent which I could not place. I walked up to his car and as soon as I said the first three syllables of my street, he started pulling off and said “I’m not going that way!”
Mind you, there are laws in DC that prohibit cab drivers from asking that question and refusing to take someone home. On top of that, I only live about 5-7 minutes from where he was picking me up, in a neighborhood that’s not all that bad. I didn’t get upset though, because I still had a lady hailing cabs for me, which meant I was gonna get another one. Only problem was, another one didn’t come for over 5 minutes, on a chilly Spring night.
When the next one finally pulled up, my patience was gone. The Ethiopian guy driving the cab tried to pull that same “Where are you going?” crap on me, and I told him that it was against the law. I even threatened to take down his cab number and report him to the Taxicab Commission.
He still tried to refuse to take me, but the best thing that could ever happen to me in that situation occurred: A white man witnessed this violation, and came to my defense! “YOU CAN’T DO THAT! YOU HAVE TO PICK HIM UP! YOU CAN’T ASK HIM WHERE HE’S GOING!” I see why Katt Williams did that comedy routine about having white friends for situations like this. That fellow saw an injustice taking place, and he yelled at the top of his lungs to help a total stranger get a cab home! Seriously, that cab driver would pave probably pulled off and dragged me by my arm for three blocks had there not been a vocal white witness.
And yes, you read that right. I did have my arm in the cab once the driver started talking about leaving. It was cold and I was tired! I wasn’t giving up without some kind of act of resistance! The cab driver changed his tune when talking to the white guy. He unlocked the back door and had the nerve to say “I wasn’t going to leave him! I’m going to take him home! I just could not hear him!”
This is when I got in and yelled “F*CK YOU! TAKE ME HOME B*TCH!” I next proceeded to sit down in the back of the cab, look out the window at everybody and calmly say “Thank you both very much. Have a lovely evening.”
There was silence for the first minute or two of the ride. Then my friend called to check on me. I said to her “You see what I was saying earlier? It literally took a white man getting upset for my black ass to get a simple cab ride home. Normally I would have just waited and given my money to another cab driver, but it’s cold and I’m tired…”
The cab driver must have started to feel guilty upon overhearing my phone conversation. That, or he saw me writing down his name and license number so I could report him later. Whatever the case, he proceeded to tell me his name(Ephraim), apologize and then refused to receive any money for the ride home. Next, Ephraim the cab driver then began giving me some drawn-out explaination saying that he wasn’t racially discriminating against me, just merely tired and on his way home. I did not buy his half-assed story for one minute since he already lied once to the Good Samaritan white guy witness. However, he didn’t have to apologize to me and refuse to take any payment, so I accepted his apology, sincere or not. I was going to report his lying ass to the Taxicab Authority anyway, but decided that saving my $7 and getting a funny story out of the deal was vengeance enough for one day.
I think I’m going to go out one night this weekend with my camera on me, and wait for a cabbie to ask me where I’m going. Then, I’m flash photographing his face and telling him I work for the Washington Post and he just made the front page. Actually, I’d like to come up with something even funnier because that one is just so-so to me. If you have ideas on how to piss off cab drivers in Washington DC in the name of liberty and justice for all, feel free to share them. As long as these ideas won’t get me shot at or arrested, I’m open to hearing them!Tweet