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Opinion: The Shameful “Black Lives” Hypocrisy of Uber, Lyft and Other Gig Companies

Cherri Murphy | Special to California Black Media Partners

To executives at Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, Postmates, and other gig companies:

 

We are the workers who power the core of your businesses and we write in response to your recent comments on the Black Lives Matter movement. Your statements have included various platitudes about your commitment to racial justice and the Black community. We are not fooled. Your lip service in support of Black Lives is hollow, created by well-paid public relations teams, and absent of any promise of real change.

 

Lyft has been my primary source of income for the past three years and I’ve driven over 12,000 rides. A survey by the University of California Santa Cruz suggests 70% of rideshare drivers are African Americans and other People of Color, 50% are immigrants, and, because of company greed, only 31% say they could find $400 in an emergency.

 

Racial justice is economic justice. The conditions that make police killings of Black people possible and inevitable are the same conditions that make the exploitation of Black and Brown workers possible and inevitable. We reject your attempts to separate racial justice from economic justice and we see it as an attempt to dodge your responsibility for the exploitation of your Black and Brown workers everyday.

 

This fight is not only about police killings and terror — it is about every institution that exploits and abuses Black and Brown people in this country. When it comes to exploiting Black and brown people, you and your companies are experts.

 

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, gig workers were faced with a devil’s choice: Continue working despite a deadly virus or risk losing the roof over our heads. When we attempted to secure masks, hand sanitizer, paid sick time off, unemployment wages, and other protective measures we found obstacles, opaque processes, and hand wringing. We had to turn to outside organizations — and each other — for safety during the pandemic. Where were you then?

 

The Black gig workers who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic have been the hardest hit economically and the most likely to die from the virus, yet your companies have done nothing to ensure our welfare. There are stories of drivers who have lost their lives, yet your companies once again, were nowhere to be found. Where were you then?

 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Black gig workers already faced discrimination and abuse on the job. Black gig workers already had no protection from racist consumers who file false complaints and do not tip. Black gig workers already found less support and more discrimination from staff meant to “support” us. Black gig workers already were subject to more policing and harassment from law enforcement on the job everyday. Where were you then

 

Then, as now, you were stealing from your workers. You pay us starvation wages while you and your executives return to million dollar homes that you built off our backs.

 

You deny us workers’ compensation and disability insurance if we are injured and you refuse to provide protection from discrimination and retaliation. We work late-night hours, weekends, and holidays away from our families for no overtime pay. You increase rideshare prices in predominately Black and Brown neighborhoods.

 

Today, until November, Californians will hear from the real experts — the drivers.

We believe from the very depth of our beings that there will be no peace until there is justice.

If you respect Black lives, as your corporate statements so proudly declare, you will respect Black voices and listen to your workers when they say that enough is enough. All labor has dignity. All labor has worth. We demand that you respect ours.

 

About the Author

Cherri Murphy is a Lyft Driver and social justice activist.

OPINION: Protesting Doesn't Solve Our Problems

By Terrance Amen

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) -- If protesting solved the major problems in our community, we wouldn't be protesting the same things we've protested for over 100 years. Yes, protesting draws attention to a situation and there may be some positive changes that come from the protest, but the underlining problems still exist that put us in a position to be harmed by people outside our community.

 

The real solution to many of the problems in our community lies with us and until we realize this, those problems will continue. We all know about the disgusting video showing the murder of Brother George Floyd, but what about the many others that weren't videoed. If you think about this, in a lot of these cases, not all, the main problem was lack of money, which makes us as a community have to do things we wouldn't have to do if we had our own financial resources.

 

The major problem as I see it is spending a trillion dollars every year outside our community. This is and will always be the major problem for our community. That trillion dollars we spend every year outside our community could be used to create or recreate our institutions like banks, insurance companies, clinics and hospitals, major TV and movie production companies, supermarkets, schools, businesses, and anything else we need to rely on our own community for our livelihood. We celebrate our greatest leaders every year, but refuse to do what they all said, which is to do for self. I believe fear is the major cause. We have athletes and entertainers who are scared to come together, in order to create our own leagues and major production companies. But they aren't the only ones. They're just a microcosm of our community.

 

As a community, we have the same problem. We're afraid of losing our jobs and positions when in a lot of cases, we're the reason these businesses we work for exist. If our so-called leaders, athletes, and entertainers would come together, in order to form companies, this would give us as a community an opportunity to invest and own them. This would create a winning solution for our whole community. Not knowing our value is another reason why we don't have our own. But everyone outside our community knows our value, which is why they're still making trillions off us.

 

Unfortunately, we're still on the plantation, we just get paid, rather than working for free. But the owners are still reaping the bulk of the money we produce. The solution is there and will always be there when we overcome our fears, which is not real and know our worth as a community. I have a saying, it doesn't take a lot of money from the individual to solve the major problems in our community, but it does take a lot of unity. Once we realize this, the major problems in our community will be solved.

 

For real solutions for our community, watch this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-G-PxIgwroA&t=6s

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