Uber’s New Delivery Service Only Caters To D.C’s White Neighborhoods

CREDIT: AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

Uber, the popular ride share service, is rolling out a new feature in Washington, D.C. that allows the city’s residents to request quick deliveries of everything from Altoids to Zest Ocean Breeze Refreshing Bar Soap.

That is, some of the city’s residents. Twitter user @DonnyBridges was quick to note that Uber’s delivery areas — currently two sections of Northwest and Southeast DC — looked suspiciously familiar:

The practice of “redlining” has been utilized for decades by industries ranging from supermarkets to banking. But if brick and mortar stores engage in a kind of quiet discrimination by simply choosing not to opt in to low-income or minority neighborhoods, companies like Uber, which are highly scalable and inherently mobile, make conscious decisions to purposefully opt out of entire neighborhoods from their service areas.

Technology companies in particular, born in the lily-white incubators of Silicon Valley and Alley, are increasingly coming under fire for their questionable relationships to minority communities. Most recently, the makers of smartphone app Sketch Factor, which advises users which neighborhoods are “sketchy,” faced harsh criticism for stoking racial profiling by flagging predominantly minority neighborhoods.