[Re: "Here Comes Trouble," June 29]
On July 10 I attended the T.E.A.M. Cab Chicago rally on the second floor of City Hall. I was not alone at the rally. Also in attendance were 15 or so activists from the disability community, four reporters from the print media, eight reporters from the electronic media (both radio and television, representing three languages), one wire service, and one alderman.
The rally was intended to draw attention to the real issue at the heart of the cab industry's apparent unwillingness to serve the underserved, a promise they, as an industry, made in exchange for the recent 16.8 percent fare increase.
Once all of the cabbies' rhetoric, name-calling, smear campaigns, and diversionary tactics are stripped away, the issue that remains at the core of this controversy is discrimination. They don't want to pick up or drop anyone south of Roosevelt Road, west of Ashland, or north of Peterson. They would much prefer to troll around the Loop looking for deep-pocketed men heading to O'Hare during rush hour. They are reluctant to respond to dispatched calls from neighborhoods outside of the Loop, would rather not pick up anyone in a wheelchair, aren't able to accommodate those needing a little extra assistance, are leery of a woman's ability to pay or tip or to pay and tip--and God forbid if you happen to be a person of color, you may as well start walking!
In our nation's history, discrimination has reared its ugly head far too many times. There are poignant examples throughout every decade that has come to pass of specific groups of peoples, cultures, races, and religions suffering at the hands of an oppressor. What makes the cabbie situation rather unique is that the discrimination is so widespread. It is discrimination based on physical ability, color, ethnicity, neighborhood, socioeconomic status. It is discrimination based on all of the things that make Chicago a wonderful and diverse place to live. The cabbies insist that it's about geography, but to say that it is simply an issue of geography is to paint the picture with too broad of a brush. The real story lies within the everyday life stories of those who must watch nearly a hundred cabs race past them before one will carry them to their destination.
This is not a simple issue that can be explained away or rationalized into easily digestible bites. A woman I met at the rally said it best: "If this were simply a case of ignorance about issues of mobility then education could remedy the problem, but it is not. This is an issue of bigotry and hatred." It has many layers that must be continually addressed by grassroots community groups like T.E.A.M. Cab Chicago. I will continue to participate in rallies such as the one that took place on July 10 and I will continue to fight for my right to a ride.