Racism: Study Reveals Cab Drivers Discriminate Against Blacks

A recent study conducted by some university researchers has disclosed that Uber and Lyft drivers cancel rides ordered by Black people.

Our world is developing at a faster pace and one of the contributing factors to this is the influence of technology. Nonetheless, despite the progress, some biased people seem to have decided to draw us back into the times of segregation. Racism seems to permeate into every sector of the American society. Numerous studies have proved this. But a recent research on Uber and Lyft conducted by some scientists from the University of Washington, M.I.T. and Stanford has brought about some awful revelations. Drivers cancel the rides ordered by Black people. Below you can  find out how and why it is done as we have gathered for you some information from various sources.


By tapping into new technologies and the ubiquitous use of smartphones, the likes of Uber and Lyft — rival ride-booking services — were supposed to solve many of the problems that litter the traditional economy.

But it turns out some of those problems are hard to tackle, even for these new Silicon Valley tech darlings.

That’s the main conclusion from an academic paper published Monday that said African-American users of these digital services faced racial discrimination by some Uber and Lyft drivers.

The findings — based on roughly 1,500 combined trips in Seattle and Boston — come on the heels of similar racism accusations against Airbnb, the vacation rental website, where people with African-American-sounding names found it harder to rent rooms than their white counterparts.

Accusations of racial discrimination also have been levied at conventional taxi services. But the claims against these newer tech companies — which have garnered multibillion-dollar valuations and often a global footprint — could tarnish their reputations if such practices are not addressed quickly.

Airbnb, for its part, has recently taken steps to stamp out such racial bias, including the creation of a new nondiscrimination policy.

As part of the research into Uber and Lyft, African-American and white users in Seattle and Boston hailed rides separately with both services. Read more.


That’s according to a report that examines racism among Lyft and Uber drivers. The study, conducted by researchers from Stanford University, MIT, and the University of Washington, involved four black passengers and four white passengers–evenly split between genders–who ordered nearly 1,500 rides.

Over a period of six weeks, they ordered rides in Seattle through Uber and Lyft using real photos of themselves. In Boston, they used racially ambiguous photos, under either black-sounding or white-sounding names. Uber drivers, who must accept the ride before seeing passengers’ names and photos, disproportionately canceled on people with black-sounding names–despite the company’s policy of penalizing for frequent cancelations.

Lyft drivers, who see names and photos before accepting passengers, did not cancel on black passengers (or those with black-sounding names) as often. This is likely because they have an opportunity to screen certain passengers upfront, the researchers said. In Seattle, researchers found black riders consistently waited up to 35 percent longer than white passengers.

The study also found women passengers were sometimes taken on longer rides than men and “reported ‘chatty’ drivers who drove extremely long routes, on some occasions, even driving through the same intersection multiple times,” the study read. To avoid this perceived mix of flirting and profit-maximizing behavior, researchers suggested upfront fares, a practice Uber has already implemented. Read more.



“Ridesharing apps are changing a transportation status quo that has been unequal for generations, making it easier and more affordable for people to get around,” Rachel Holt, Uber’s head of North American operations, said in an e-mailed statement. “Discrimination has no place in society and no place on Uber. We believe Uber is helping reduce transportation inequities across the board, but studies like this one are helpful in thinking about how we can do even more.”
The research also observed discrimination in the taxi industry—a well-known, decades-old issue. The paper doesn’t compare the rate of discrimination between traditional drivers for taxis or ride-hailing apps.
Lyft and Uber’s issues were slightly different. While researchers found that wait times were noticeably longer for black men on both services in Seattle, Lyft drivers didn’t cancel on black riders disproportionately. But the researchers said that because Lyft shows riders’ names and faces upfront, its drivers could simply screen out black passengers. Uber doesn’t show names until after the driver accepts the fare. “In Lyft, you can discriminate without ever having to accept and hit cancel,” Knittel said.

The researchers proposed changes that Uber and Lyft could make to reduce discrimination, including not identifying passengers’ names, more severe repercussions for drivers who cancel after accepting a ride and periodic reviews of drivers’ behavior to look for racism. However, Knittel acknowledged in an interview that there are advantages to providing personal information, such as creating a friendlier and more efficient experience. “There’s a trade-off here,” he said. “There is a potential benefit from showing names and photos, and yeah, I think we would agree with that. These companies have to weigh those two effects.”

The authors of the study, along with Knittel, were Don MacKenzie, an assistant professor at University of Washington; Yanbo Ge, a doctoral student at the same Seattle-based university; and Stephen Zoepf, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford. Read more.

We have different hashtags like #Airbnbwhileblack or #drivingwhileblack and so on. It seems that soon entire lives of the African-Americans will be made of such hashtags. It’s already almost impossible for a Black person to go out without being harassed, assaulted and even killed. At the same time, we hear pathetic speeches about freedom and equality.  Can a Black person live comfortably in this country without facing racism and discrimination of any kind? Is it an unattainable desire?!





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