#RidingWhileBlack: Former Teen Vogue Editor Says an Uber Driver Assaulted, Called 911 on Her

Illustration for article titled #RidingWhileBlack: Former Teen Vogue Editor Says an Uber Driver Assaulted, Called 911 on Herem/em
Photo: Rachel Murray (Getty Images for Bumble)

This is America. For scores of black women here—there is always gendered and/or racial violence lurking around the corner. Fortunately, some black women, like former Teen Vogue editor and current media maven Elaine Welteroth, have a huge platform and friends in high places.

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And because Welteroth does have those things, perhaps her story will inspire those who think that we make up the daily aggressions visited upon us to one, believe black women, and two, make people think twice before trying to test.

On her Instagram stories on Wednesday, Welteroth recounted a Tuesday morning incident where an Uber driver kicked her out of his car at the wrong location and called 911 on her saying that she “hit him” (when the video she took clearly shows that she did no such thing.)

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Welteroth was on her way to Flatbush but the driver dropped her off in Park Slope—two very distant and distinct locations in the borough of Brooklyn.

As she was talking to someone on the phone, the driver stopped his car, told her to get out, and claimed that “it’s not his job” to get her to the correct location.

“I said, ‘Are we here? Which way is it,’” she says in the video, in which the driver can be heard talking to someone on the phone—that someone would be the police.

Welteroth then gets out of the car and walks up to the driver’s window, who can be heard telling the cops that Welteroth hit him. A bystander yells from a car or the sidewalk, “She did not hit him,”—but he did allegedly close his car door on her leaving a bruise on her arm.

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Illustration for article titled #RidingWhileBlack: Former Teen Vogue Editor Says an Uber Driver Assaulted, Called 911 on Herem/em
Screenshot: Elaine Welteroth Instagram

Welteroth also says that she was kicked off the Uber app, ostensibly for being a hostile customer, when it was clearly the driver who was in the wrong.

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As she unpacked the disturbing incident, the 31-year-old said that she contemplated writing about the incident because when black women tend to speak up, tend to get labeled “angry” or worse, nothing of consequence happens. Ultimately, Welteroth decided to do so because black women deal with this type of thing every single day—whether it’s at the hands of Uber drivers in cars, TSA agents in airports or clubs with bouncers.

And in her words: “I’ve had enough.”

Illustration for article titled #RidingWhileBlack: Former Teen Vogue Editor Says an Uber Driver Assaulted, Called 911 on Herem/em
Screenshot: Elaine Welteroth Instagram Story
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“Too many of us deal with this kind of mistreatment daily and we just keep it moving,” she wrote in another slide. “Because we know we are bigger and stronger than the awful, petty things that happen to us. Because we know that our energy and time are our most valuable commodities. Because we believe in practicing the living mantra: ‘When they go low, we go high.’”

Illustration for article titled #RidingWhileBlack: Former Teen Vogue Editor Says an Uber Driver Assaulted, Called 911 on Herem/em
Screenshot: Elaine Welteroth IG story
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Soon after, Welteroth said she received a call from Uber board member Ariana Huffington, her friend and mentor, who apologized for the mistreatment and assured Welteroth that the driver was being investigated.

But imagine it was just regular Keisha Lightfoot or Nakesa Olemi or Haiycinth Wright from Brooklyn?

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Chances are that it would probably be just another day, another black woman bullied, something more for us to shake our heads at.

Frankly, I think more of us need to go low—and by low I do mean the gonads (sorry Mrs. Obama). Maybe that will learn ‘em.

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Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

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DISCUSSION

When they go low, I go under the gutter. We would have both been at the police station because at my age, I am beyond done with respectability politics and he would have definitely caught these hands a la Naomi Campbell style. There is no way in hell the driver should be under an investigation. He should have been arrested. Look at her arm. And his ass was lying. She has proof. I’m tired of this these attacks on Black women. It is exhausting and infuriating that even with proof, racists still keep their jobs and are free to roam around terrorizing Black people.