I've ridden in quite a few Chicago area cabs since March of this year and have concluded that racism is alive and well in Chicago taxis.
In March, I took a new job in which I travel about one week out of every month. When I don't park my car at the airport for the trip, I take a cab from my home on the south side of Chicago to either Midway or O'Hare airport. Then, I take a cab from one of the airports back home several days later. When I ride in a cab, I like to talk to the cab driver; hell, it's better than staring at my smartphone and pretending that I'll find anything worth paying attention to.
Unfortunately, as a result of my recently frequent cab rides, I have come to the conclusion that a significant percentage of white cabdrivers in Chicago are racist.
This is not a scientific survey by any means and the subject group is rather small at this point.
More disturbing to me than what I have heard from behind the wheel is the driver's assumption that because I am white, I must be a racist too.
It's important to note that I don't think of myself as naïve. Rather, I am simply surprised that in 2013, in Chicago, white cabdrivers are so willing to express their racist thoughts and philosophies to me. You don't know me; you don't know what I am really. I'm not pasty white so you'd think someone might think twice; I'm one of those olive-skin Mediterranean/Russian types who can sometimes pass for Latino. But that simple outward fact hasn't stopped numerous cabdrivers from letting me in on their dirty little racist secrets.
In addition, I don't get into a cab and announce that my wife is black and that my 20 month old daughter is mixed race in order to head the driver off at the verbal pass. That might not stop them anyway.
Over the past six months, here are some of the gems I have heard expressed by some of the Chicago area's finest Caucasian cabdrivers:
"I don't pick up blacks. Not worth the risk."
"F__kin' blacks are taking over and nobody is doing shit about it."
"If the Mayor called out the National Guard, maybe some of this black on black crime would stop. Better yet, let 'em kill each other."
"Black politicians are the most crooked of all. I don't care about Blagojevich or Ryan. Look at that Beavers and that Stroger."
"Jesse, Jr. and his wife...just goes to show you that you can't take the ghetto out of the black."
You may be thinking, "why doesn't this guy speak up?" I have. It really doesn't stop them. It's quite odd. In fact, on one occasion, I told the cabdriver that I was married to a black woman after he went on a rant about affirmative action and how it was unfair that the blacks were getting all of the good jobs and the white man was being left unemployed and out of options. I said, "Hey man, everyone needs to make their own way under the rules that exist. My wife is black, but she didn't get any help - she went to college and law school and had two kids before she graduated." His response, "That don't mean shit to me. I'm sick and tired of this reverse racism and you should be too."
Interestingly, I had rides from two black cabdrivers recently. One in Dallas and one in Chicago from Midway to my home. Neither of them said anything about white people. Instead, the conversation centered on the Dallas driver's constant efforts to grow his business and on the Chicago driver's part-time gig with the cab company so he could buy his daughter a car as she attends University of Illinois-Chicago on a full academic scholarship. Again, not scientific, but sure isn't racist.
I will never change the mindset of any white cabdriver who has decided that his racist leanings have value and are based in fact. Instead, I would advise all of you white cabdrivers out there who hold those views to stop sharing them with your passengers, especially me.
I don't want to hear it from you Mr. White Taxi Man and all you have done is help to perpetuate the theory that I have held for years: White people are far more racist than blacks. I know I can't be alone in this experience so please, for your own sake and for mine - stop painting me with your whitewashing racist brush. If that's all you know, drive your cab and shut up.
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