“Back of the bus” typically has a very discriminatory context. On the B110 bus through Brooklyn, that phrase has nothing to do with race. It has to do with gender and religion.
The New York Times reports:
the most obvious sign that the B110 is different was demonstrated Wednesday by Gitty Green, a 30-year-old mother who boarded the bus on Wednesday with her three children and a stroller and headed straight to the back.
As her two older sons perched on the seats behind her, she looked ahead at the men seated in front, mostly Hasidic Jews in wide-brimmed hats, and said, because her religion dictates the separation of the sexes, she never wondered what it would be like to sit with them.
“It’s such a normal thing for us that women and men are separate,” she said. “Most of the ladies go to the back.”
To be sure, the story makes no mention of a woman being told to go to the “back of the bus.” It’s just understood. But what would happen if a woman defied the norm?
The B110 bus is operated under a franchise from the city. But after Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is Jewish, learned about the religiously motivated separation of sexes on the bus, he said the franchise would be revoked unless the practice was changed.
More on coverage of the story, which began with a report in Columbia Journalism School’s The New York World, at GetReligion.