Listeners Weigh In On Taxi Cab Frustration

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Tell Me More guest host Allison Keyes and Lee Hill, the program's "digital media guy," comb through listener feedback about recent conversations on the program. This week, we’ll hear your views of this week’s commentary about perceived racial prejudice by taxicab drivers. Keyes and Hill also provide an update on the case of a Detroit seven-year-old who was accidentally gunned down by city police.

ALLISON KEYES, host:

And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blog universe and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy, is here with us as usual.

Hey, Lee.

LEE HILL: Hey, Allison. So our listeners and readers on the Web had a lot to say about your commentary this week about how some cab drivers might be inclined not to pick up passengers based on their race. And you recounted your recent frustration of not being able to hail a cab yourself.

KEYES: Instead of pulling over, he swerved into the opposite lane of traffic, floors the accelerator and hurdles by, just in case my outstretched hand sullied the chrome on his door handle. Perhaps my afro scared him?

HILL: Well, we heard from Caitlyn, who is white, she says she knows exactly what you're talking about.

Caitlyn: As a white woman with African-American friends, I've seen this happen firsthand. My white boyfriend has even attempted to hail a cab for a black man. When the cabby pulled over and my boyfriend stepped aside for the black man, the driver said, no, and pulled away.

KEYES: Yeah, not surprised. Wish there was a way to fix that.

HILL: Yeah, me, too. Trust me.

On another subject, Allison, Arizona just passed a law regulating ethnic studies in the state's public schools. Now, it was in response to the Tucson School District, which offers courses in Mexican-American, Native American and African-American studies.

Now, under the new law, if a school is found teaching classes that are, quote, "designed primarily for peoples of a particular ethnic group, funding for that school will be withheld by the state."

Now, on our blog TELL ME MORE producer Alicia Montgomery wrote about an extreme case of so-called ethnic studies. Alicia wrote about her high school teacher, a black nationalist that, quote, "regularly spent time railing against capitalism, denouncing the government and complaining that interracial dating threatened the survival of African-Americans as a people." Deep.

Even though she didn't share these ideas herself, Alicia wrote that she's glad for her classroom experience and that it was a forum for different perspectives and open discussions.

Well, blogger Joseph wrote in to say that he agrees with her. He told us that he never had a discussion in grade school, high school or college about racial or cultural differences. And he says that hindered his ability to relate to people later in life.

KEYES: Well, that's one vote in favor of ethnic studies. Thanks, Joseph.

All right. Lee, any updates?

HILL: Just one, Allison. This week, we also reported on the tragic death of Ayana Jones. Now, she's the seven-year-old girl who was shot and killed Sunday by Detroit police officers in what some believe was a botched raid. As we reported, there's lots of tension surrounding her death and a string of violence in the city over the past few weeks.

And, Allison, we've since learned that the U.S. Department of Justice is now monitoring the investigation and that the Reverend Al Sharpton will eulogize little Ayana at her funeral tomorrow.

KEYES: That was a disturbing story. Thanks for the update, Lee.

HILL: And you're welcome. And thank you, Allison.

KEYES: And remember, with TELL ME MORE the conversation never ends. To tell us more you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522, again, that's 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also log onto our website. Just go to Npr.org, click on programs, then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

(Soundbite of music)

Just ahead...

Unidentified Woman: This year's Miss USA 2010 is Michigan, Rima Fakih.

KEYES: Rima Fakih is the new Miss USA. Her reign so far, though, has been rocked with a little controversy, racy photos, too. The Barbershop guys weigh in next.

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Allison Keyes.

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