Throughout the months of August and September, both Uber and Lyft have sent multiple emails to their drivers in response to the tragedy in Charlottesville. Both services pledged to help drivers fight back against white supremacy. The two rideshare services appear to be competing to look more responsive to racism. Lyft has gone so far as to announce a partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center, while over the past two weeks, Uber has sent out multiple emails announcing resources for Dreamers to fight the announced end of DACA.
As a part time driver on both platforms, I’m disappointed in their cynical marketing ploy. It’s fairly obvious that each company is trying to sell themselves to their drivers as sympathetic. Especially in the case of Uber, this is an easy way to earn PR points after a year long tsunami of bad news. It’s almost as if Uber’s new Board of Directors is attempting to apologize for their founder and former CEO, Travis Kalanick. His biggest sin, of course, was agreeing to serve on President Trump’s Economic Advisory Committee.
This attempt to take advantage of the summer headlines by Uber and Lyft only perpetuates the theme that America is racist and people of color are being targeted.
After Charlottesville, Uber sent an email to drivers saying,
We were horrified by the neo-Nazi demonstration that took place in Charlottesville, which resulted in the loss of life of a young woman as well as two Virginia State Troopers responding to the protest. There is simply no place for this type of bigotry, discrimination, and hate.
As the country braces for more white supremacist demonstrations, we wanted to let you know what we are doing for the Uber community:
- We will act swiftly and decisively to uphold our Community Guidelines, including our policy against discrimination of any kind—this includes banning people from the app.
- 24/7 in-app support is available to answer questions and address concerns. You always have the right to end your trip if you feel uncomfortable or disrespected.
Now more than ever we must stand together against hatred and violence. Thank you for making our community one that we can all be proud of.
Lyft sent this email to their drivers:
Keeping Lyft a Safe Space
Lyft represents all people, including the 66% of drivers who identify as a minority – and every ride is an opportunity to bring people of different backgrounds together. With white supremacists planning rallies nationwide, we want to share an update on resources to keep drivers safe.
- Watch for safety alerts from Lyft. We’re continuing to monitor Portland for possible activity from hate groups.
- Report incidents of hateful intimidation and harrassment. Our team reviews all feedback you leave for passengers for violations of Lyft’s anti-discrimination policies. Rate someone 3 stars or less, and you won’t be matched again.
- Use the 24/7 Critical Response Line. If you ever feel unsafe, first dial 911, and then reach out to Lyft.
We’re also partnering with the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization with a long history of fighting hate and intolerance, to provide educational resources for drivers. You’ll hear more from us on those efforts in the coming weeks.
We’re committed to continue listening, learning, and acting to protect the safety and inclusivity of our community.
The next week, Lyft’s weekly email included a twist on a regular feature called Round Up & Donate. Under this program, passengers can opt in to round up their fare to be donated to a charity of Lyft’s choosing. That week, they made Southern Poverty Law Center a choice for passenger donations. According to their website, Lyft allows donations to a wide range of leftist causes (and one military cause):
Passengers can now opt in to round up their fares and donate to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey (Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund ); fight hate (Southern Poverty Law Center); help girls prep for the future (Girls Who Code); empower communities (Habitat for Humanity); protect nature (World Wildlife Fund); support the U.S. military and their families (USO); support LGBTQ+ equality (Human Rights Campaign); and defend everyone’s civil liberties (the ACLU).
Not to be outdone, the last couple of weeks have seen multiple emails from Uber regarding the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). “If you’re a DACA recipient, Uber stands with you,” the first email says. They go on to announce several corporate resources dedicated to drivers who are DACA recipients, including a $500,000 legal fund, Town Hall meetings at their local offices around the country with immigration lawyers on hand, virtual town halls online if you can’t make it in person, and an online Dreamer Resource Center on Uber’s website. A week later, a second email was sent that reminded everyone of the Dreamer Resource Center.
In the land of corporate marketing, it’s pretty obvious to see this as a virtue signal from the bigwigs. It’s the modern day version of white liberal guilt playing out in corporate activism policy.