WaPo also has this news:

Racial discrimination by taxi drivers continues to be a major problem in the District despite years of litigation, according to a report by civil rights advocates who say tougher laws and more aggressive enforcement are needed to address a persistent problem.

The study, scheduled to be released today, says thousands of minority residents and visitors each year are unable to get taxis in the District because of the color of their skin or because they live in, or want to travel to, mostly black neighborhoods.

“It is clear that despite the egregious nature of this problem, the District of Columbia’s sporadic efforts over the years to address it have been ineffective and wholly inadequate,” says the report, which was prepared for the Equal Rights Center, a local not-for-profit civil rights group, by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and the law firm of Hogan & Hartson.

Having been in a few DC-area taxicabs, I’ve never encountered a white driver. It therefore seems unlikely to me that the drivers are anti-minority racists. Further, DC has an overwhelmingly “minority” population, making it a strange choice of business environment if one wants to operate a whites-only cab service. One wonders if this is the type of “rational discrimination” that Dinesh D’Souza wrote about in The End of Racism, with drivers discriminating on more benign factors such as mode of dress and demeanor based on their experience?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Chris says:

    I have been working in the District for 20 years and ride cabs nearly everyday. I had the same reaction as you. I can recall in the last 20 years riding in a white driven cab maybe 5 or 6 times. It’s so unusual to see a white driver, it really stands out. Most of the cabbies seem to be Ethiopian or Somalies.

    I have often thought of starting up a blog to describe cab rides alone. I have had some amazing AMAZING experiences.

    One thing I would like explained, however, is why are all the cabbies at Dulles and BWI airports now Russian? Why do they all use the same cell phone? What are they doing with all those laptops?

  2. I’ve never been to DC, but in other cities you rarely see a white driver and it’s been that way for some time. Maybe it’s a case of that old faithful fall back, anytime something doesn’t go one’s way, one cries “racism and prejudice.” How old and boring.

    Jennifer Martinez sends

  3. Paul says:

    I’ll be the “Rush Limbaugh” in the crowd and state the obvious point that is sure to be controversial.

    What motivates a cabbie?


    To the extent that this phenomenon exists, I suspect it is more due to expected gratuity than the color of skin.

    Common sense says that a guy taking a cab into a poor neighborhood will probably tip less. If it became well know that black people tipped more, they would get all the cabs.

    During Mardi Gras in New Orleans it is extremely hard to get a cab. People have waited for as mush as 4 hours. Cabbies don’t like to pick up drunks who won’t tip them and get sick in the car.

    I have no trouble getting a cab during Mardi Gras. I make a sign that says “SOBER, AND I TIP WELL.” The next cabbie that sees it stops.


  4. Pass the Gas says:

    The Post had a misadventure a couple of years ago, when they had a white man and a black man hail cabs in DC, to “show” that the taxi drivers discriminated against the black guy. Guess what? No matter where they stood, the black guy got picked up first! They tried it all over town, same result. The experiment was a failure.

    I remember thinking at the time, it was because they were well dressed. As I recall, they were both wearing business suits. Interesting, it may not be skin-color, but subcultural implications that make the drivers seem racist. Like, maybe they want to avoid anybody who might be in a gang, or on drugs… But a respectable black guy, no problem.