For decades, Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts has been a getaway for the Black elite. Generation of Black families have visited and owned property on Martha’s Vineyard since the early 1900s. The New York Times explained, “Its harbor drew freed slaves, laborers and sailors in the 18th century, and white locals sold them land. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, middle-class blacks bought or rented summer homes; many descendants returned annually.” However, just because we are in 2018, doesn’t not mean racism has gone anywhere.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, July 11, a man was not allowed to get onto a bus because he is Black — and the bus driver said it directly to his face.
According to The Vineyard Gazette, Kevin Brooks, 35, was waiting on a bus on route number 13 and was traveling from Edgartown to Oak Bluffs, which is the Black area of Martha’s Vineyard. Brooks said the bus driver, who has not been identified, looked at him and kept driving. Mr. Brooks says he called an Uber, followed the bus to Oak Bluffs and confronted the driver. Brooks told The Vineyard Gazette, “I said, ‘What was the reason you didn’t stop for me in Edgartown?’ He said ‘Because you’re Black.’” Brooks said the bus driver also said the bus was full.
Brooks explained, “It was a bit of a shock. I’ve never had an issue. I don’t even live here, I still feel like part of the Vineyard. I go to the same bus stop every day.”
The Vineyard Transit Authority released a statement, appearing to try to explain the bus driver’s actions, “The bus was at capacity and the vehicle operator failed to switch the destinations marquee read ‘bus at capacity.’ The person took an Uber to Oak Bluffs, arriving shortly after the bus, where he approached the bus and questioned the vehicle operator about being passed by. Upon review of the on-board audio/video footage, it was determined the vehicle operator responded to the person’s inquiry by saying the bus was full and when the person challenged their response the operator stated, ‘well it’s because you are Black.'”
The statement continued, “The VTA and the operating company Transit Connection, Inc., who manage the vehicle operators, have a zero tolerance policy for this type of behavior. The vehicle operator involved in this incident has been terminated from employment effective immediately.”
This apology is suspect. Sometimes companies need to apologize without qualifiers.