Image may contain: Club, Music, Leisure Activities, Person, People, Human

It’s 2018 and I got into a racist taxi driver’s cab who told me he would “refuse service to a group of black men”

Got into a taxi after a night out but ended up having a debate with a racist taxi driver

I was really hesitant to write a piece on my experiences with racism because honestly, I have enough stories to fill a book. That being said, a recent ride in the taxi after a night out took me right back to those years as a teenage girl where I couldn’t even walk down the road to my house without fear of being racially attacked.

Now before I go any further, I would like to say this isn’t a piece on what to think, I am a believer and supporter of freedom of speech. HOWEVER, I am also very much a believer of dealing with the consequences of certain beliefs.
On the night in question, me and a friend piled into a cab feeling pretty worse for wear and asked to be dropped to a cash point so we could pay the fare. Now this sparked a debate on the conveniences of Uber. Up until that point, the discussion had been fairly civil and even enjoyable. Then out of the blue, he told me and my friend he would refuse service to a group of black men.

Shocked, of course, me and my friend challenged this racist statement asking why he would deny service. He responded that he would kick them out for fear of his safety and also them not paying. He implied that he had this experience before so there was a basis to this statement.

Image may contain: Plant, Ivy, Flora, Person, People, Human

Me and my baby brothers who would most likely be denied Mr. I'm-not-racists service

It was therefore fair to assume that every black man would do exactly the same thing because you know, all black people act and think the same. But he “isn’t a racist”. He also told us the story of the time he kicked out two black girls without providing a reason as to why. Now, I wasn’t there so I can’t accurately comment on whether it was justifiable or not.

That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was racially motivated. Why he felt the need to confide this in us is beyond me, but a part of me believes that he very much knew he was in the wrong as his mantra of “I’m not racist but” was succeeded by more racist revelations. Looking back, I think he was also searching for a person of colour to agree with his past actions to absolve his guilt because if I (a black woman) excused what he had done, then surely, he wasn’t a racist, right?

I also can’t help but think, would I have been refused service if I wasn’t with my white friend? Mr. I’m-not-racist then went on to defend the racist statements made by Trump during his campaign by saying he couldn’t be racist because he had taken a homeless “coloured” woman and housed her.

How true this is I don’t know but I can think of 2 very wrong things with this statement. Number 1, it isn’t the 50’s anymore, you cannot say “coloured” person- it’s an offensive term with a horrible history. Number 2, housing one person of colour doesn’t excuse any of the horrible and discriminatory ways in which Trump reduced people to a disgusting stereotype.

As I have previously stated, I never intended for this to be a piece on what to think, who to support etc. I do think however, I have learnt from this experience in particular and hope that others can too.

1. It is never okay to invalidate anyone’s emotions. You have every right to feel whatever you’re feeling and just because another person may process emotions differently that doesn’t make them any less valid.

2. We ALL have different experiences in life, most of them being influenced by race, gender, weight, nationality and the list goes on.
One of the things that angered me most about this cab driver was the fact that he tried to tell me that my experiences as a black woman wouldn’t have differed to his as a white man. I’m not excusing it but the fact of the matter is we will have had very different experiences in life and there are things he will go through that I will never understand and vice versa.

3. Denying someone a service because of the colour of their skin is racist. I can’t even believe that is open for discussion in 2018.