Are Uber black passengers been discriminated against or it is something else?
It’s a strange feeling to open the Uber app in a low-income neighborhood and know you’ll wait an eternity before a car comes your way.
Drivers don’t flock to black neighbourhood as they do in white areas. A black guy says " I’m a young black man asking for a ride out of a neighborhood known for street crime, and my Uber wait times can be more than 30 minutes.
This guy is not alone in this. Research shows that black riders face longer wait times and more frequent cancellations than white riders. In 2016, the National Bureau of Economic Research released a study that found Uber drivers in Boston were about three times more likely to cancel trips from male riders with African American-sounding names. The study also showed that black passengers in Seattle were waiting 35% longer for a ride than white passengers.
Another African American expressed his frustration "Last weekend, for example, I needed an Uber to pick me up at in a predominantly black neighborhood. As I watched the little animated cars near me on the app, I waited 27 minutes for an actual driver to head my way". He further said "I had a driver cancel my ride only blocks from my location, maybe after realizing the neighborhood was home to low-income black and brown residents. I’m familiar enough with the experience that any real reaction of shock or dismay would be fake. It simply is what it is".
And it all feels familiar. It turns out ride-hailing apps like Uber have done little to mitigate that same discrimination that plagued the taxi industry decades ago. Growing up, I remember my dad would joke about trying to hail cabs in the South. Taxis would pass him while his hand was raised and choose instead to pick up a nearby white passenger. Sometimes he would have his non-black friends call for a cab. The black male experience of using Uber seems to be the same even decades later. It isn’t unusual for a driver to ask me if they can drop me off near a black neighborhood instead of having to drive into it. And sometimes, if I’m out on the town with non-black folks in certain areas, I’ll ask one of them to use the app and just split the cost with me" he said.
Now, Uber’s recent policy changes are only going to make the problem worse for black riders.
Until this new year, a driver would only see a passenger’s destination once they were in the vehicle. This made it more difficult for drivers to avoid servicing specific neighborhoods. Last week Uber drivers were given the ability to see a passenger’s destination in any ride request.
Uber emailed 150,000 California drivers and millions of passengers this month to alert them of the policy changes, part of the company’s response to AB5, the new gig-work law that makes it harder for companies to claim their workers are independent contractors instead of employees. But now Uber may have another problem: Unless the platforms directly address how much easier it may be for drivers to discriminate, people will continue waiting for rides that never come.
As an African American writing this article, can we blame Uber drivers for avoiding black neighborhoods? The few gangs in the hood are mainly those afraid of by cab and Uber drivers. One of my supportive explanations is poverty which breeds violence. Nobody wants to risk their life in an area assumed to be violent(as often assumed), and no one wants to take risk of been robbed few dollars in their pocket. I am not claiming it happens in all black areas, but those four times it happened to me were more than enough. There have been several occasions when taxi and Uber/Lyft drivers were jumped on in the hood, beaten, shot at or robbed at gun point(It has happened to few of us including me) but not once in a white neighborhood. I have on several occasions heard from even many other African American taxi cab drivers saying they have no problem picking up in a white area any time of day or night but when it comes to the hood, once it starts getting dark, it is a no no or the passenger pays upfront before been offered a ride especially if the passenger is in their teens.
The social disorganization and perspectives generally suggest that poverty's criminogenic effect is racially invariant. These perspectives imply that policies that alleviate economic deprivation will equally reduce rates of violent crime in neighborhoods that are predominately white and neighborhoods that are predominately black. In contrast, several social commentators have suggested that alleviating poverty will be a relatively ineffective crime reduction strategy in predominately black areas. Researches have proven that, reduction in poverty has equal effect both in predominantly white and black areas. There is no difference in moral behavior of humans regardless of their race but poverty concentration greatly affects their behavior and perception of life. Sadly enough, it is the few violent entities that make the whole neighbors look suspicious.