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Lyft and Uber Passengers of Asian Descent Report Discrimination Linked with Fears of Coronavirus

By [email protected] – https://www.flickr.com/photos/thetruthabout/15172340596/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36537269

As fears of the coronavirus continue to escalate, Uber and Lyft passengers of Asian descent are reporting increasing incidents of discrimination from drivers, according to a CNBC report

The racist incidents chronicled in the report parallel a larger international trend of rising xenophobia and anti-Chinese sentiment. However, the racial profiling and stigmatization is not limited to ethnically Chinese people as other members of the broader Asian American community have also reported being targets of discrimination motivated by the hysteria surrounding the coronavirus.

The CNBC report recounts the story of Lilian Wang, who was initially denied entry into a Lyft vehicle by the driver at the San Francisco airport. Only when Wang’s friend, Katie Schoolov–a White CNBC video producer– said that she requested the Lyft ride was Wang finally permitted into the vehicle. Wang and Schoolov reported that the driver asked whether the two women were returning from China. After responding they were returning from Mexico, the driver reportedly remarked, “Ok, so not China” and later commented that he had declined ride requests from people with “Chinese-sounding names.” 

The NBC report examined two other additional incidents of racism over fears of the coronavirus. 

In a Facebook group with a membership of more than 12,000 Lyft and Uber drivers, one member shared with CNBC that at least five posts per day mention the virus. The member also noted that many drivers expressed that they did not want passengers of Asian descent and that it was not safe to pick them up. 

In a statement from Lyft spokesperson Dana Davis, she affirmed that the company takes “any allegation of discrimination very seriously” and that Lyft is “monitoring official updates on the global outbreak closely, and taking our cues from international and domestic public health officials.” 

Lyft declined to comment to CNBC about whether the company would be pursuing instituting any comprehensive policies or public health resources to combat prejudice. Lyft noted that they instead will be requesting riders to share their experiences with their safety team. 

According to the report, Uber directed CNBC to its community guidelines that drivers are expected to comply with, which specify that drivers should “foster positive interactions” with passengers who “might not look like you or share your beliefs.”

Additional coverage by CNBC reports that the flu is a higher threat in the U.S., and has already killed 10,000 during this influenza season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 19 million people have come down with the flu in the U.S. with 180,000 requiring hospitalization.

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