A lawsuit has been filed against Uber and one of its now-former drivers after the driver was caught on camera losing his bigoted mind and shouting the n-word several times at his Black passengers. It’s one of those stories that reminds us that, while the advent of Uber and other ride-sharing companies like it has been a brilliant and convenient innovation, using these services is often risky for both drivers and passengers because you really just don’t know who you’re riding with or picking up outside of the information listed on the app—which, apparently, doesn’t include a checkbox that reads “This MF might be crazy.”
According to The State, it all started when two Black women, a mother and her daughter, were driving from Atlanta to Charleston, S.C., last Friday, when their car broke down in Aiken, S.C., and they called an Uber to get them to their destination. Jovene Milligan, one of the plaintiffs in the suit filed Monday, said that they were picked up by a driver whose aggressive, erratic and racist behavior—which can be viewed in cellphone video taken by one of the passengers—made her so nervous that she kept a hand on the gun in her purse and prayed that the cranky, old neo-Nazi at the wheel didn’t make her use it.
From The State:
Moments before, Milligan claims in a lawsuit, the Uber driver known only to them as “Daniel” in his profile had asked her and her daughter where they came from after declaring his heritage hailed from Great Britain. When the women referred to themselves as African Queens, the driver launched into a racist diatribe, where he repeatedly called them the N-word. It was captured on video clips the women filmed during their ride.
The driver then began speeding and swerving on Interstate 20.
With one of her hands resting on the gun, Milligan remembers telling her 30-year-old daughter, Ghiana Gardner, “This could go bad. So just be prepared.” Then, they closed their eyes and began to pray.
You might be thinking to yourself: “There’s just no way this guy flipped out like this over two Black women calling themselves “African Queens”—but if that’s what you’re thinking, you just don’t know the power of white fragility, my friend.
The video shared with The State is edited and it’s hard to make out what all is being said, but it’s clear that the racists-gone-wild driver is tossing around “nigger” like he just barely knows any other words. He can also be heard telling the women that Black passengers should call him “the Uber Goober,” while white passengers call him “Uber Dan.” (I was going to make several jokes about how Black riders actually call him “Uber Klan,” but I’m better than that.)
Anyway, an official from Uber said that the driver has been banned from the company.
“Everyone has a right to feel safe when using the Uber platform and what these riders experienced is extremely upsetting,” the spokesperson told The State via email. “We have a clear non-discrimination policy and we have removed this driver’s access to the app.”
Milligan told WSAV News that the driver wouldn’t let them out of the car and that she “was constantly monitoring his GPS to make sure we were still in route even though he wouldn’t let us out.”
She also wondered how the hell a man like this got cleared to drive in the first place.
“I’m not sure how extensive the background checks are but this person is not somebody that should be driving anybody,” the 52-year-old said. “We were not treated with any type of respect.”
The crazy thing is that the driver “passed a multi-step safety screening and has made nearly 7,000 trips since he began driving for Uber five and a half years ago,” according to The State, and he had a 4.89-star rating out of five stars. This made me wonder how many Black people live in Aiken, so I looked it up and it turns out the city is around 70 percent white and 25 percent Black. Now, I’m thinking that either the Black Uber users have just been fortunate enough to dodge this racist and demented bullet, or they all do as I do when I get in the car and immediately pop those headphones on and keep their eyes glued to their phones.
Anyway, the two women are seeking $5 million in damages each after being subjected to the horrifying 59-mile ride.
“It was traumatic. It still is traumatic,” Milligan said. “I’m literally waking up every morning just crying because I just think about all the different ways it could have went.”