All education—gifted and talented or otherwise—begins with freedom and respect and ends with hatred.
This is a story about hatred and segregation.
Yesterday, my husband and I (privileged white folks), walked out of a hotel in Miami and asked the man in the valet stand to hail a taxi to the Miami Airport. There were two taxis nearby, one parked in the hotel driveway and presumably there first, a second on the street. As my husband and I started towards the taxi in the driveway, the valet blew his whistle, grabbed our luggage, and waved in the second taxi. We decided not to get in the middle of what appeared to be a dispute among taxi drivers and valet. We just followed the valet as he put our luggage in the second taxi.
I honestly thought that the first taxi had “budged” by not waiting in the cab line on the street. That is--until we got moving along in the second taxi. The driver asked us where we were from and then launched into a racist tirade about taxicab practices in Miami and the need for minorities to respect them:
That Negro has no business being there. This hotel is not a Negro spot. Negroes can drive passengers in other spots…in their areas.” He [our driver] would never pick up passengers “in Negro” areas.
Miami--Home of segregated cabstands in November of 2018.
Naïve me! Almost daily, I’ve read—and continue to read-- about racial indignities and injustices. I have heard about horrific incidents from my friends. Still, I felt sick. My husband and I pretty much rode in silence while the cab driver moved on to reminisce about Chicago, growing up on Taylor Street, Italian Beef, and hot dogs.
As I got out of the cab, I asked the driver to be open and respectful of others.
As we walked into the airport, my husband told me that the driver hadn’t heard me. Hadn’t heard me or hadn’t wanted to hear me?
I called the hotel to report the incident today. I spoke with a hotel manager who was extremely apologetic. She added that the “valet service” was run by a third party and promised to pass on my information to the valet manager who would call me back. I am still waiting to hear from the valet manager. My daughter suggested that I see if there was an agency that oversaw cab drivers’ behavior. I couldn’t find one, but if anyone knows of one, please let me know.
But this is what I do know, in our time, we fear too much, distance too much, and hate too much. Indeed, W.E. Du Bois wisely observed, “herein lies the tragedy of the age…that men know so little of men.”
Now we all know a little bit more about bigotry and more about what we need to change.