Following the Executive Order by President Trump to ban Muslims from seven countries and the protests around different airports, the hashtag “deleteUber” began trending all over social media urging people to cancel their Uber accounts. The movement began in New York City when taxi drivers joined the protest by refusing to pick up passengers at the John F. Kennedy Airport. Only minutes later, Uber announced that it had turned off its surge pricing feature, which usually allows the increase of a ride cost in times of high demand, a decision that many people did not support. Many interpreted it as an attempt from the company to take advantage of the protests. Others linked it to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s role in the economic advisory group of the president. While I condemn the plan to keep anyone outside of this country because of their faith, I disagree with the idea of deleting Uber.
The fall of a company like Uber would negatively affect thousands of people in the world. Uber has offered opportunities to many people who could not have been hired elsewhere. In the U.S., I have met drivers from Togo, India, Mexico, Uganda, The Dominican Republic and so many other countries. They all chose to work for Uber for various reasons — some like the flexible schedule, others love that they do not need to start their own business once they get into this country. Since 2009, the company is now present in 66 countries and employs 6,700 people in total. Unfortunately, deleting an application like Uber might mean dismissing one or two Uber drivers. Many people may argue that other similar companies like Lyft could hire them, but most of these employees do not have the luxury of changing jobs as they wish. In the end, the concept of boycotting companies to make our voices heard harm the future of the same people for which we are trying to fight.
Days after the protest, the CEO went on to publish the list of other CEOs who serve on the presidential board, a reminder to many people that he is not the only business owner whose products should be boycotted. Should people go ahead and boycott products of Pepsi, General Motors, Disney, the International Business Machines Corporation, and General Electric because of their ties with the president? If we decide, as a nation, to be consumers who care about the ethics of the producing company, we should then boycott all companies that do not honor our beliefs. For instance, the human rights organization Amnesty International has been exposing what goes behind the scenes of companies like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and so many other manufacturing companies. In 2016, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated that approximately 40,000 children were working in the mines of the Democratic Republic of the Congo without mentioning the number of deaths and fatal accidents. It is ironic that many people were deleting an app from a phone that literally violated basic human rights to be made. In brief, very few companies would be functioning today if we were to censure them based on their moral beliefs or political affiliations.
All in all, I do appreciate the intentions behind the boycott. People used their voices to speak out, but this should not stop here. Uber’s incident is just one case among many others where companies put their profits before the people. Capitalism has now become the adversary of social justice and equity. Business owners are more concerned with their profits than they are by people’s lives. This should be an occasion for all American citizens and capitalist societies to reflect on what it is that they really care about. It does not matter whether the business is inside or outside their country. Still, we should find less hazardous and more unifying ways to protest and claim for change.