Yo! Taxi! The New Racist Taxi App

Every time I see it

It makes me uncomfortable:

The Yo Taxi App

 

Before Uber & Lyft obliterated

The taxi cab industry

An industry that resisted change at every step

It lurched to its end

Like dinosaurs in their final weeks

Burying their heads in the sand 

When the giant meteor began shading the sun

 

The most racially biased transportation system

Towards African-Americans:

The taxi cab industry

Or wait, there was also that 

Blacks sit in back thing on busses

That Rosa Parks had to sit down

To stand up to

 

So you can add public transit

To the list of transportation industries that

Shut out people of color

 

Plenty of small loans were denied

People of color too

So the auto industry at large wasn’t a friend either

 

I’m white, educated, privileged at birth

Through no choice of my own

And we moved into a neighborhood with

The highest but shrinking concentration of African-Americans

Almost 20 years ago

Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco

Straight Outta Hunters Point by Kevin Epps

Look that up on Youtube

Our first winter here

We tried to get a cab to come pick us up

To go to a work holiday party downtown

After calling three cab companies to come 

None of them came

 

We gave up,

Walked to the corner to grab a bus

And within a minute 

A cab happened to drive by

We hailed it

We were in fancy holiday party garb

Grateful to have snagged a cab

 

The first thing the driver says to us

Looking back over his shoulder

“What were you, buying drugs?”

No. We live here. 

And we’re just trying to get to a holiday party

But none of your colleagues seem willing

To come to our neighborhood:

Silence

 

My wife works downtown

Late nights are the norm

Time and time again

Hopping in the cab downtown 

Asking, where to?

The back stiffens, 

The driver tenses

Bayview Hunters Point

Why do you want to go there?

I live there.

Silence

 

So we’ve established that the taxi industry

Has had an unfair (illegal & destructive) 

Bias towards African-Americans

But more cabbies have been held up

In well-to-do areas, than in the Bayview and the Mission

More cabbies have been stiffed

In other neighborhoods

But the bias, the stereotypes persist

Among many cabbies (not all)

Certainly the ones that picked us up

 

The taxi cab industry

On life support 

Is desperate now

Not above appropriating the word “Yo”

From the African-American community

And using it to name their smart phone app

 

Yo! Taxi! Is what the African-American community

Has been shouting in the phone,

Shouting at the yellow cars as they drive right by

Empty inside

 

Cab companies

Institutionally racist

Failing the African-American community

Again and again, 

Systematically

Disenfranchising

Endangering

 

Is now going to use the phrase 

Yo Taxi

As the name of its new Smart Phone App?

This truth is stranger than fiction --

More disturbing than fiction

 

To the pitch person who thought this one up

I would reserve my strongest bitch slap

To the face, 

Man or woman

 

Words matter

The Yo Taxi App: 

A tongue & cheek wink over the shoulder

To the passengers in back

 

Uber & Lyft have their issues

There should be preference for local drivers

Not super commuting drivers

But other than that

I have no love lost for the

Taxi cab industry

They were dinosaurs

Their demise long overdue

Smart phone apps crushed them into dust

And the same needs to happen 

To their own smart phone app