Filmmaker 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.
He still deserves credit for grudgingly acknowledging one important benefit. But, truthfully, these experiences exist in all services. Government shouldn't be banning market competition like Uber, especially when the taxi monopoly which regulators subsidize and protect isn't properly servicing consumers.
If there's one thing that yields better outcomes for marginalized groups—and, beyond that, all of us—is the freedom to choose. That freedom shouldn't be subject to infringement simply because some politician and lobbyist think they know what services are better for you.
Reprinted from Marginal Revolution