Note from BW of Brazil: A common occurrence that would seem to be a joke is not a laughing matter. Back in July of 2015, the popular rapper Emicida opined that being successful doesn’t free black people from racism, a fact we’ve known for quite some time. The rapper went on to detail a personal experience of attempting to catch a cab with a friend, also a black man. Attempting to flag down the first taxi, the driver pulls up, looks in their faces and then pulls off. A second taxi driver arrives, again, looks at the two black men and accelerates. At this point the rapper and his companion decide to walk to a taxi stop. Between the first two taxis not stopping and their arrival at the taxi stop, the rapper was greeted and congratulated by several fans.
At the taxi stand, the rapper and his partner ask a driver if his cab was available. The driver asked where they were going. The rapper tells him. The driver unlocks the door. The two get into the back seat of the cab to which the driver says the two of them cannot ride in the back seat. Asked why and he says that’s how it is and didn’t even start the car. The two refused to sit in the front seat with the driver which provokes another question: “What is the exact address of where you (two) are going?” Emicida gives him the exact address. He replies, “One of you two have to sit in the front.” The two refuse again and the rapper asks what the problem was. The driver once again asks for the exact address and the rapper once again asks, “What’s the problem?”. Silence. The two get out the cab and the rapper curses at the driver. Getting out the car, a girl waves and screams that she’s one of the rapper’s fans.
Getting out of the cab, the rapper contemplated:
“After having taken all those pictures (with fans), I left an interview, went to renew my passport to do a show in another country again, with my face on the cover of the magazine and everything. Nothing matters. The taxi driver was not a rap fan…in the end, we were just two pretinhos (black guys).”
Far from being an isolated incident, a recent report shows that this is a common occurence with black Brazilians across the country. Whether it’s just actually flagging down a cab or going through something similar to what Emicida described, “catching a cab while black” isn’t as easy as it may seem!
Nearly half of black passengers say they have already suffered racial prejudice when catching a cab
Passengers assess that the best way to solve the problem is to raise awareness among drivers
Courtesy of R7
Among those interviewed, 26% are certain to have been the target of racial prejudice at least once in hailing a taxi
Nearly half of blacks that have used private individual means of transport (46%) – such as taxis and Uber – consider themselves victims of racial discrimination when hailing or catching a taxi. The statement is the result of a survey carried out by the application 99 with about 10,600 afrodescendentes (descendant of Africans) passengers from all over the country.
Among those interviewed, 26% are certain to have been subjected to some kind of racial prejudice at least once in their lifetime while traveling. Another 20% said they were not sure of the discrimination and 53.4% said they had never suffered from the problem.
The survey also points out that almost 50% of black passengers of individual transport believe that the best way to solve the problem is to raise awareness among drivers through training and on the importance of combating discrimination.
Another 28% opted for the inclusion of an equal treatment of race, religion and nationality in the contract of use of the application by the drivers. There are still 14.2% of those interviewed who understand that nothing should be done because they evaluate that this type of action increases racist acts.
According to the training manager of 99, Roberta Castro, the issue of racial discrimination is a cultural problem of the country. She evaluates that the result of the research shows that it is essential to discuss the issue head on.
“The ideal world would be that this did not happen, but we know that there are passengers that go through this type of situation on taxi trips.”
Note from BW of Brazil: With the incident involving Emicida and the report above, it would be fitting to share yet another incident that took place in Salvador, Bahia, last July. As you read the report below, remember that Salvador, Bahia, is a city that is more than 80% black. As such, wouldn’t it be a bad business decision to consistently turn down black customers? just a thought…
Black Entities Denounce Racism in taxis in Salvador, Bahia
A group of activists marched to the Coordenadoria de Táxis e Transportes Especiais (Cotae or Coordination of Taxis and Special Transports), chanting slogans like “taxistas racistas não passarão”
Courtesy of Agência Brasil
The Coletivo de Entidades Negras (Collective of Black Entities) of Salvador organized July 27th an act against police racism and taxi drivers in the capital of Bahia where cases such as the arrest of black journalist and activist Eduardo Machado were reported on June 23rd were reported Concentrated in Praça da Piedade, in the capital’s downtown, the group of activists marched to the Coordenadoria de Táxis e Transportes Especiais (Cotae or Coordination of Taxis and Special Transports) of Salvador, chanting slogans such as ” taxistas racistas não p”ssarão” (racist taxi drivers will not pass by).
Journalist Eduardo Machado says that in June of this year he tried to flag down one of the five taxis that were lined up near the beach, in the Calçada neighborhood, where he was with his wife and a couple of friends. After the refusal of all the drivers, he says that he questioned why no one was stopping for him, which caused the taxi drivers to call the police. After the arrival of the police, Eduardo and a friend were placed in the camburão (police truck), where they remained for two hours, while the policemen drove through the city. After that, they were sent to the Delegacia de Flagrantes (police station of criminal acts) in the Iguatemi neighborhood.
“We’ve already made the denouncement in several organs, including the Public Prosecutor’s Office, after the event. But so far we have not gotten any response regarding the case. Filing the B.O. [Bulletin of occurrence/police report] I didn’t even have access. It’s been over a month now. This work that we have been doing is only proving how difficult it is to make a denunciation of racism here in Brazil,” said the 32-year-old journalist, who also works as a political coordinator for the multimedia community center Agência de Comunicação do Subúrbio (Suburban Communication Agency). On the day of the arrest, Eduardo’s wife, the filmmaker Larissa de Andrade, remained in the location after the incident and contacted members of coletivos negros (black collectives), of which both are a part. With this, the subject was picked up on social networks and, at the end of the night of the 23rd, Eduardo was released.
“I went to several places, in the streets of Salvador, looking for him, desperate, looking for my companion and, independent of that, a life. The first question is the right to life. When I got to the station, [there was] a lot of mockery. Nothing happened, fortunately, but we’re here, literally, remembering that something could have happened for something minimal as trying to go home and having been denied a taxi,” Larissa said. Larissa and Eduardo believe that the case was settled the same day because both are part of groups of the Movimento Negro (black movement). With the almost instantaneous repercussion of the case, the ombudsman of the Government of Bahia, Vilma Reis, personally went to the police station to resolve the matter.
On the day of the protest, when arriving at the headquarters of Cotae, several demonstrators gave testimony on cases in which they were discriminated against or deprecated by taxi drivers in Salvador. The couple Eduardo and Larissa were received in the office of the coordinator of the entity, Marcelo Tavares, who claimed not to know about the case. Sought for this report, the municipality’s Mobility Department (Semob) reported in a note that “it can not pronounce because it delas with a crime of racism”. Regarding allegations of police violence, the State Public Security Department did not respond before the closing of this article.