By Jason Pinzón. Photo via Replacecarkey.org
On a typical day after a six-hour shift at Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park, I would drive for Uber for about two to three hours to make up extra money. Uber driving was necessary for my economic survival, especially when full-time hours were scarce at Universal during the spring nonpeak season.
But even though Uber provided $400 a month for me — about 40 percent of my income — I quit that job.
Following one of Donald Trump’s executive orders banning immigration and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, taxi drivers protested at JFK International Airports by halting services. Meanwhile, Uber continued its services and, as a result, received backlash from other protesters and prompted a trending #DeleteUber hashtag on social media.
And backlash has now come from Uber drivers like me.
I quit Uber once I learned that its CEO Travis Kalanick revealed to employees that he was sitting on Trump’s business advisory council and argued that the company will work with Trump if it meant bringing about “better transportation.”
When Kalanick defended his relationship with Trump in a statement reported by CNN, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe a company, one that employs many immigrant workers, would openly work with a president who signed such a discriminatory executive order.
I’ve encountered a number of diverse people while riding and driving for Uber. Many nice people telling me the stories of their lives, work and hobbies. I helped to provide a safe means of transportation for whoever needed it and Uber working along with Trump — someone who vilifies hardworking immigrants, women, and people of color — threatens these same people’s safety.
Quitting Uber was also the right thing to do because I know how it feels to be voiceless, just as many Muslims are feeling now.
When I was a child being overpowered by those bigger than me and manipulated by those who pretended to be close to me, I had bullies try to convince me of their lies — lies that feed our innermost insecurities to destroy our motivation, inspiration and dedication to changing the world.
People pay attention to the things Trump is doing to our country. I know about 20 school friends and coworkers who dropped Uber in retaliation. They, too, understand that Kalanick lost 200,000 customers these past weeks because anyone who works for or with Trump is not for peace, not for equal rights, not for equal pay, and not for fairness.
After people boycotted the Uber service, many switched to its competitor, Lyft. I can understand why people will boycott Uber, but our situation seems to be more complicated than simply choosing one service over the other.
For example, regardless of the $1 million donation Lyft gave to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Lyft still holds ties to the Trump administration.
Carl Icahn, billionaire financial advisor to Trump, has invested $100 million into Lyft. This Uber boycott is resulting in increased profits for Trump’s advisor and, as a result, renders the boycott in vain. Due to many investors and billionaires having stakes in multiple companies at once, boycotts will do little change if not done at a much larger scale.
That’s also why I will no longer return to Uber, despite Kalanick’s recent decision to exit Trump’s advisory council. This constant political battle between companies and business interests is exhausting my financial stability. It’s becoming more and more difficult to boycott when we learn of the many financial connections between companies and the political leaders who own them.
It’s clear companies and investors close to Trump are now benefiting from his presidency. If somehow disruption of the economy through boycotts can achieve real change, then it has been a longtime coming.
Judging by the reactions from the public, it is clear that we will have resistance against any company that supports Trump and his administration. In a way, this is the only path I see to have any real change. Anyone who works with our wannabe dictator of a president is in for a disappointment if they want their company to succeed.
Jason Pinzón graduated from Cal State Long Beach in spring 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in Creative Writing and Chicano Latino Studies. He spends his time playing music, writing stories and he aspires to become a musical performer.