TAMPA, Fla – (WFLA) – Ybor City businesses and local cyclists are speaking out against “racist” comments posted to Facebook by the owner of a local pedicab company.
Members of the community are making it clear that they don’t want any part of the controversial remarks geared toward bashing the black customers.
Keith Works, owner of Tampa Bay Bike Taxi Co. made the following Facebook post about black people where he said in part, “I am not Kunta Kinte. I don’t work for free.”
“As many of you know I make a living as a pedicab driver. I pick up people on my pedicab and take them to their destination. I often pull human loads weighing between 300 lbs. to 600 lbs. a night. It’s a fun job that gives me the opportunity to be social, get some good exercise and make a living.”
“Why is it that African Americans always seem to ask me if it’s a free service? No other race of human beings has ever asked a pedicab driver if it’s a free service.”
“Are you entitled?”
“Would you pull loads of human beings weighing between 300 lbs. to 500 lbs. around for 6 to 8 hours a night for free? Of course not, you would moan and groan and complain that you are a slave.”
“Accountability starts with recognizing hard work and compensating your local pedicab drivers for their hard work.”
“I am not Kunta Kinte, I don’t work for free. Please don’t ask if it’s a free service.”
Works added a picture of Kunta Kinte in shackles to go along with his post. Kunta Kinte is the well-known slave character from the movie Roots.
“Well it’s obviously racist. I think that’s probably the biggest point,” says Jordan Miller, owner of Vélo Champ Cycle Sport.
Miller is one of many within Tampa’s large cycling community who are disturbed by what they saw on Facebook.
“They’re strangely, awkwardly racist statements that just don’t have any place,” Miller says.
As for Works, he shrugged it all off when News Channel 8 approached him about it.
Works told us that, “This is silly. You guys need to get a purpose in life.”
When asked why it’s silly, he said, “Because it’s Facebook, nobody cares.”
Works deleted the original post and his responses to those who were angry over his remarks, but screenshots of the post have spread like wildfire online.
Miller says, “A little cowardly to make such abrupt, gross statements and then try to sweep it under the rug and make it go away.”
Ybor City Development Corporation is also weighing in. The department is part of the City of Tampa, handling economic revitalization and addressing issues within Ybor City.
The following statement was released in partnership with the City of Tampa:
The Ybor City Development Corporation (YCDC) was deeply saddened to hear of this blatant display of bigotry on a social media page from a business owner that operates services in Ybor City as part of his Tampa operation.
This is not who we are.
The YCDC stands in solidarity with the City of Tampa in denouncing any actions of individuals and/or groups who intend to intimidate our residents, businesses, visitors or anyone in our neighborhood. We are resilient and will not be discouraged in our continuing struggle against the evil of racism.
We will be reaching out to the business owner to reiterate our position on racism.
These acts are not reflective of the vibrant, diverse, welcoming, and culturally rich community that is Ybor City.
We will continue our shared duty to keep Ybor City safe and welcoming for everyone.”
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