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More On Taxi Driving And Resentment
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April 25, 2008, 05:08 PM
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Robe Imbriano is an African-American TV director, and thus, presumably has pursued that "middle-classness" that Jeremiah Wright says you shouldn`t.

Nevertheless, members of his family have spent time in jail, according to him. Discussing his MSNBC documentary Lockup: Getting Out, he writes

Leonard Marks, the parole chief in our film, says at one point that he doesn’t know a single family that doesn’t have someone in jail, prison, or on parole. My family wouldn’t be an exception. In fact, it’s a standard tale of the extended black family in America . I’ve had family on both sides of this story – addicts behind bars, cops and security guards (sometimes, both).

I know this story because it’s been a part of my life for decades – kind of like growing up singing, then getting to college only to see that there’s an entire department dedicated to studying music. Seeing the incarceration pandemic extend past my family and sweep the nation, I decided to study it too

The same web page says that "Away from the networks, Imbriano has written a frequently republished op-ed piece for the New York Times about his difficulties as an African American catching a cab in New York." It happens to be still online, and in it he wrote
Just as people on foot nod their heads in recognition at those they find vaguely familiar, cabbies, too, signal pedestrian acquaintances, particularly those of my stripe. You accelerated. Now, you weren`t off duty. If perhaps I had been mistaken, my doubts were soon resolved when, at the next block, you stopped for the fairly well-dressed man at the corner of 67th Street and Broadway.

The white man at the corner of 67th Street and Broadway.

Through the tears that the sub-zero wind brought to and blew from my eyes, I saw two more of your colleagues pass underneath my raised arm. My raised black arm. Until we meet again, Mr. T57030T.

Until we meet again. [I`ve Got Your Number, March 4, 1990]

They actually did meet again, since the New York Taxi Commission read the New York Times, called him and asked him to make a formal complaint, which resulted in a fine of fifty dollars and a reprimand to Mr. T57030T. That`s in Read All About It!: Great Read-Aloud Stories, Poems, and Newspaper Pieces for Preteens and Teens , which as far as I can tell is the only place it`s in print, but still means that this is used as propaganda in the school systems.

It drew a response, from another New York taxi driver:

Cabbies Practice Passenger Selectivity to Protect

March 22, 1990

LEAD: To the Editor:

To the Editor:

Robe Imbriano`s ``I`ve Got Your Number`` (Op-Ed, March 4) is unfair, perhaps even slanderous, to the 42,000 taxicab drivers of New York City, of whom I am one. I am sorry Mr. Imbriano had the misfortune to be passed up by a driver, presumably because he is black. And since the driver thereafter picked up a white passenger, yes, that driver was unfair to Mr. Imbriano, who is a law-abiding, middle-class black man.

But as a white driver who has picked up thousands of black people in the six years of weekends in which I have moonlighted, driving until 4 A.M., let me say that cab drivers have only one effective way of protecting themselves against the murderous thieves who prey on us. And that is to exercise experienced discretion in whom we pick up.

No amount of Taxi and Limousine Commission regulations or Op-Ed complaints can change the fact that in recent years as many as 17 drivers have been murdered annually, hundreds wounded and beaten, thousands robbed or defrauded. The average is six felonies every day committed against New York`s cabbies. Unfortunately for Mr. Imbriano, 85 percent of these crimes, against white and black drivers alike, are committed by black men 16 to 40 years old. Half of New York`s cab drivers are themselves black and act no differently from white drivers.

J. R. GREEN New York, March 7, 1990

This last is unlikely to be reprinted often. I found it in the footnotes of Paved With Good Intentions, and the New York Times has it online. (Good for them, by the way. The Paper of Record may be a record of lies and treachery, but at least we can now see the record.)

But remember, the man who had a cab driver fined for not picking him up says that members of his own family, no doubt looking very much like him, are criminals. He calls them "addicts behind bars," who are part of an "incarceration pandemic," but what that means, apparently, is that they were part of what Steve Sailer refers to as the "crack wars."

Now, I understand that Imbriano isn`t guilty of any of these crimes in that he`s never actually physically attacked a cab driver, but I would have a lot more sympathy for his inability to to get a cab on a freezing cold day if he weren`t the kind of man who calls a crime wave an "incarceration epidemic."

That kind of thinking is responsible for a lot of the crime in America, and in that sense, he`s as guilty as a white liberal Democrat like John V. Lindsay.