A bus driver for the Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority has been fired after informing a potential passenger that he had not stopped to pick him up because he was black.
Kevin Brooks, a barber, relies on the VTA to commute home from his work at Edgartown to the ferry at Oak Bluffs, en route to his home in New Bedford on the mainland.
According to the MV Times, Brooks flagged the bus down on his way home from work, but the driver chose not to stop and passed him. Typically, according to Brooks, the bus drivers will stop and let him know that they are at full capacity before moving on.
To avoid missing his 5:20 p.m. ferry, Brooks called an Uber. Once he reached the ferry, not long after the bus itself had arrived, he went back to confront the driver.
Initially, the driver told him that the bus had been at full capacity. However, he had not turned on the marquee that indicates that the bus is full. Pressed further by Brooks, the driver said, “Well, it’s because you are black,” according to an official statement from VTA, which reviewed the onboard video and audio footage.
Brooks told the MV Times, “I am from the South. If I feel racism, I deal with it. For the first time in my life I had to swallow it. I’ve never felt more disrespected or belittled in my life. I had trouble sleeping that night.”
The VTA’s statement says the transit authority has “zero tolerance” for behavior of this kind, and that the bus driver was “terminated from employment, effective immediately.”
Brooks told the MV Times that he had no intention of depriving anyone of their livelihood. “Maybe he was having a bad day and the wrong thing came out of his mouth,” he said. “I’m not about any drama at all. I just want to provide for my family. I’m not here for a political debate.”
This story is the latest addition to a string of recent videos and social media posts that show the racism often faced by black Americans. Recently, a man was told to leave his own pool at his apartment complex, and the police were called on a boy delivering newspapers, a family having dinner at a Subway store, and a 12-year-old boy mowing lawns.
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