In a documented case of Airbnb racism, an Airbnb host has been fined $5k for canceling a reservation because the vacationer was Asian. In fact, the Airbnb host literally put the discrimination in words, letting the person know that she was canceling the reservation because the other woman was Asian. And Airbnb has gone one step further adding another caveat to the punishment. The Airbnb host, Tami Barker, of Big Bear, California must pay the fine, and also take a class in Asian studies. Airbnb has also banned Barker from being a host in the future.
With racism said to be on the rise, this Airbnb case is disappointing but not surprising. Airbnb uses the slogan “We imagine a world where you can belong anywhere,” and they say that built into their business model is a zero tolerance for racist behavior. With talk in the United States of a Muslim travel ban, which critics are labeling as institutional racism and bomb threats against Jewish organizations and the anti-Semitic vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, racism and discrimination is on the rise.
Just this week, Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe announced that due to what he called racism seemingly endorsed by President Trump, he was leaving the Republican Party to register as an Independent. Scarborough mentioned Trump’s unwillingness to denounce former Klan leader David Duke as one example of racist behavior.
— Trending Racism News (@racismolizer) July 14, 2017
The Airbnb racism case started in February when Dyne Suh booked a $250 a night cabin in Big Bear, California from Tami Barker using the Airbnb app in order to go skiing. Suh asked Barker if she could bring two friends and two dogs, and Barker said yes as long as she was willing to pay an extra $50 a night.
But Dyne Suh says just minutes before they were to arrive at the Big Bear cabin, Barker texted her to cancel the reservation on the basis of race.
“I wouldn’t rent it to u if u were the last person on earth. One word says it all. Asian.”
Suh tearfully recounted the incident on Youtube saying that she was shocked and saddened. Dyne Suh is an American citizen, and she claims that Barker went on to say this is why this country elected Donald Trump.
“She [Barker] said ‘This is why we have Trump, we can’t have foreigners tell us what to do’ she said that to me. I’m an American citizen, this is my home, I’ve been here since I was three years old.”
As a result of this case of Airbnb racism, Dyne Suh contacted Airbnb and also the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to lodge a complaint. Airbnb immediately banned Barker from posting lodging on their site while DFEH mediated talks between Suh and Barker. Barker’s lawyer Edward Lee says his client is “regretful for her impetuous actions.”
Airbnb host fined $5,000 for canceling a reservation with a racist comment. https://t.co/HtmaFKScBI
— deego jumanjee (@Deego16) July 14, 2017
In the mediation of the Airbnb racism case between host Tami Barker and Dyne Suh, it was determined that as a result of violating the Airbnb anti-discrimination clause, Barker would pay a fine of $5000 and take a college level course in Asian-American studies. But Dyne Suh says that the racial incident still stings.
“I just feel so hurt. People thought: ‘Oh, with the election of President Obama racism is over in this country.’ No, it’s very much alive, it exists and it could happen to anyone.”
Suh said that she was treated as a second class citizen by Barker. She claims that despite becoming a citizen and living in the U.S. since she was three years old, people don’t see her as an American, but as an Asian.
“If you’re Asian, you’re less than human and people can treat you like trash.”
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And even though this incidence of Airbnb racism can’t be erased, Kevin Kish, director of DFEH believes that this resolution is more than a penalty, but also a creative teaching opportunity which also lets people know that Airbnb will not tolerate this kind of behavior.
“A lot of times when we see bias incidents it involves a lack of understanding of the experiences and histories of a particular group of people. This was a creative way to address that core underlying cause of the bias.”
What are your thoughts on this case involving Airbnb racism by a host? Do you think that punishment was appropriate?
[Featured Image by Carl Court/Getty Images]