Illustration for article titled CEO Loses His Cool and Then His Job After Calling an Uber Driver the N-Word
Screenshot: Dashcam footage (CNN)

I imagine a lot of white people miss the good ol’ days before dashcams, internet, social media, digital activism, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, integrated lunch counters, all-white governments and the God-given right of every color-redacted American to call a black person “nigger” and go on about their business like it’s just another Tuesday.

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Well, Hans Berglund, the now-former CEO of fertilizer company Agroplasma based out of Tempe, Arizona, just found out the hard way thatto quote the late, great Nina Simoneit’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life and we’re feeling good...about seeing his racist ass get fired after an n-bomb dropped from his tongue and landed on an unsuspecting Uber driver.

According to CNN, Randy Clarke, an Arizona State University student who’s been an Uber driver for four years, picked Berglund up on January 31. Berglund moved to sit in the front seat, but Clarke asked him to sit in the back because white people often smell like bologna because in 2018 he was groped by a drunk passenger and, since then, has not allowed loan riders to sit up front with him, he told CNN.

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Clarke keeps two video cameras in his car and provided footage showing that Berglund insisted on sitting in the front seat and, after being told no (wypipo’s least favorite word next to “raisin-less”), he threatens to cancel his ride but then begrudgingly sits in back after Clarke really doesn’t give a fuck tells him it’s fine for him to cancel.

“Are you fucking serious with me?” Berglund can be heard saying before he takes his seat and threatens to file a complaint with Uber.

Clarke then decides he’s had enough and asks Berglund to get out of his car, to which Berglund responds, “Is this because I’m white?”

Clarke passes on the opportunity to fire back with, “Nah, your pathological sense of entitlement is because your white” and, instead, responds with a simple “No, sir.”

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We all know what happens next, right? Of course, we do.

“You’re a fucking nigger. You’re fucking unbelievable,” Berglund says, revealing his boundless caucacity...which allowed him to go from accusations of “reverse racism” to calling a black man a racial slur in the very next sentence.

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The episode comes to an end after Clarke warns Berglund that he’s on camera and Berglund, as he’s exiting the car, replies, “Thank you so much. You got it on camera! Whoo-hoo, this is good. This is perfect.”

Clarke told reporters that the incident “just came out of nowhere,” and continued saying, “It was quite shocking. I didn’t expect that.”

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From CNN:

Clarke had never experienced anything like that, he said, and he didn’t immediately know much about his would-be passenger. He continued driving for the ride-share company that weekend, he said, because he wanted the business.

“We had the big PGA tournament up in Phoenix,” he said, “and I didn’t want to miss that.”

But the exchange stayed on Clarke’s mind, and he decided on Sunday to try to find out more about the rider.

“This man probably does something big in society and employs people of color,” Clarke recalled thinking. “There’s just no way somebody with a business should be acting that way.”

He confirmed Berglund’s identity and sent the video to local news media, which reported the story.

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I have to applaud Clarke for not just brushing it off and moving on and, instead, ensured that Berglund learned that racism can have consequences. Agroplasma is now investigating the incident and has appointed an interim CEO, it said in a statement.

“In light of the recent incident involving Hans Berglund, Agroplasma is conducting a thorough investigation of our company’s anti-discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity practices, culture and policies,” it reads. “We are a small business that prides itself on providing equal opportunities to all employees and candidates, and we firmly believe Mr. Berglund’s actions are not reflective of who we are as a company or member of the community.

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“We are committed to performing a full and honest assessment of the situation and taking the appropriate steps based on the findings of our investigation,” the statement concluded.

As for Berglund, his attorney Scott Zwillinger told CNN that the incident was “extremely out of character for him.” Somehow, every time white people get caught on camera hurling slurs at someone, it turns out that their behavior is “out of character.” Maybe someone should look into the possibility of racism-inducing radiation caused by recording equipment...or maybe the bigots are just full of shit.

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Zwillinger continues saying Berglund is “is extremely apologetic and embarrassed and wants to do everything he can to make this as right as he can.”

Berglund, of course, did apologize earlier this week in a statement to CNN affiliate KNXV, saying, “I deeply regret and apologize for the hurtful and derogatory language I used during the altercation with Mr. Clarke. I firmly believe that there is no excuse for the use of racial slurs under any circumstance, so I will not offer any. It is my sincere hope that Mr. Clarke hears and accepts my apology and believes me when I say it is honest and heartfelt.”

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Berglund tried to drown KNXV in white tears, saying that he was fired.

“I’m taken away as CEO from the company. I don’t have anything to do with the company anymore. I’m fired,” he told the station. “I founded the company, but I’m gone. I’m history.”

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“It’s so blown out of proportion, and it’s ruined my life. It’s ruined my company. It ruins everything about my situation right now,” said Berglund. (Note: You don’t get to apologize and exclaim that there’s no excuse for your behavior and then turn around and claim it’s been blown out of proportion and use the phrasing, “It’s ruined my life” instead of “I ruined my life.” That ain’t how owning up works.)

Civil rights activist Rev. Jarrett Maupin and Clarke’s attorney, David Dow, are now asking the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the city of Tempe to investigate possible civil and human rights violations.

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The moral of the story is: racism comes at you fast. Sometimes life comes at the racist faster.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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