Fertilizer CEO Slips, Falls Into His Own Racist Bullshit In Exchange With Uber Driver
It's been a while since we last covered a racist who got fired for public racist-ing. Buckle up! Hans Berglund (no, not the guy from Die Hard) was until recently the CEO of Tempe, Arizona, fertilizer company Agroplasma. Berglund was forced out of the company after he was caught on video hurling racist bullshit (ha!) at an Uber driver.
Arizona State University student Randy Clarke, an Uber driver for the past four years, picked up Berglund outside his Scottsdale home on January 31. Berglund wanted to sit in the front, but Clarke asked him to sit in the back. This wasn't a Rosa Parks situation. Clarke said he prefers not to have riders sit up front after a drunken rider sexually assaulted him in 2018. That's a more than reasonable request and arguably safer for all parties. Berglund disagreed and quickly grew belligerent. He angrily told Clarke to cancel the ride and when Clarke agreed, Berglund said, "Are you fucking serious with me?" and got in the backseat anyway. He informed Clarke that he was going to
call the manager file a complaint with Uber, and Clark at this point just wanted the guy to get out of his car. There's limited gain in giving a ride to someone who's just cursed you out and vowed professional retribution. You're looking at several minutes of tense conversation and probably no tip.
CLARKE: Sir, please leave my vehicle.
BERGLUND: Is that because I'm white?
Clarke has several signs on his vehicle stating that "Front Seat Use Is Reserved For Parties Of Three Or More." The issue wasn't Berglund's race but the fact that he's not three separate people. Whatever point he was trying to make was further undermined when he said the following:
BERGLUND: You're a fucking n****r. You're fucking unbelievable.
Yeah, that was gross. Berglund likes to use racial epithets with the freedom of someone unaware of 21st Century technology. Clarke had two cameras in his car that recorded the exchange. In an interview with ABC 15 Arizona, Clarke said that the encounter left him in shock.
CLARKE: People died for that word ... I shamelessly felt like laughing because I did not know this was actually real.
Clarke filed his own report with Uber, but something about Berglund's overall jerkassness made him suspect he was a business owner. He did some digging and learned that the guest star in his very special episode of "Obvious Racism" was the founder and CEO of Agroplasma. Let's hope the company actually employs black people and doesn't casually call them n****rs during their performance reviews. Clarke sent the dashcam video to local news media.
Uber has banned Berglund from its app, but that's the least of Berglund's troubles. Agroplasma suspended Berglund pending an investigation. Unless the racist potty mouth in Clarke's video was a mirror universe duplicate of Berglund, there's not much to investigate. He said what he said, and not in the cool, memable way.
Agroplasma released the following statement:
In light of the recent incident involving Hans Berglund, Agroplasma is conducting a thorough investigation of our company's anti-discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity practices, culture and policies. We are a small business that prides itself on providing equal opportunities to all employees and candidates, and we firmly believe Mr. Berglund's actions are not reflective of who we are as a company or member of the community.
We are committed to performing a full and honest assessment of the situation and taking the appropriate steps based on the findings of our investigation.
Berglund issued a BS apology that failed to save his career. He's whined to local news that his life was "ruined" because of a situation that was "blown out of proportion." He also confirmed that Agroplasma shitcanned him.
BERGLUND: I'm taken away as CEO from the company. I don't have anything to do with the company anymore. I'm fired. I founded the company, but I'm gone. I'm history.
Clarke is a college senior. He was probably born in the mid-to-late 1990s. We always hope we're moving toward the day when no black person is called that specific word in anger. Well, there's always the next generation.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."