Woman says she was denied lodging on Airbnb during storm because of her race
(KTLA) -- A Riverside woman and her three friends made a two-hour drive in harrowing winter weather for a weekend trip to Big Bear, only to find once she arrived the group would be denied shelter because of her race.
Dyne Suh is speaking out about the Feb. 17 incident in which an Airbnb host in Running Springs told her she was canceling the booking Suh had made because she is Asian.
"I wouldn't rent to you if you were the last person on Earth," screenshots show the host told Suh. "One word says it all. Asian."
See screenshots of the discriminatory comments:
That night, Suh's group happened to stop their car in anguish after learning their reservation had been canceled next to a KTLA reporter who was in the area covering the severe weather and told him what happened.
"By the grace of God we parked three minutes away from the Airbnb when the host canceled and there was a news crew KTLA 5 parked next to us," Suh wrote in a comment on a Facebook post detailing the incident.
She told KTLA the host had originally confirmed via text message she could pay extra to add two people to the reservation, which had only included two individuals. When she followed up once they were near the cabin to double check, Suh said, the racist tirade ensued.
"If you think four people and two dogs ate (sic) getting a room fir (sic) $50 a night on Big Bear mountain during the busiest weekend of the year... You are insanely high," screenshots show the host told her, calling her a con artist.
"I just froze when I read that," Suh told KTLA on Thursday. "My heart just sank."
When Suh said she would report the action to Airbnb officials, the host replied: "It's why we have Trump."
Suh said that comment made her painfully aware of how threatened minorities have become under the Trump administration.
"For me personally, to now have someone say something racist to me and say it's because of Trump, it was my fears coming true," Suh said. "That people who held these racist beliefs felt emboldened."
The host went on to say she would "not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners."
Suh is an American citizen who has called the U.S. home since she was 3 years old.
"If this is my experience as a light-skinned Asian woman, what is it like for people who have darker skin than me or are Muslim?" Suh wondered aloud. "What is it like for people who are undocumented or not U.S. citizens yet?
"It stings," she told KTLA on the night of the incident. "It stings that after living in the U.S. for over 23 years, this is what happens. No matter if I follow the law, if I'm kind to people, no matter how well I treat others — it doesn't matter. If you're Asian, you're less than human and people can treat you like trash."
Because Airbnb provided the group with a reimbursement that night, they were able to find alternate lodging, Suh said on Facebook.
A spokesman for the company said it investigated the incident and the host has been barred from its service.
"Airbnb does not condone discrimination in any way," spokesman Christopher Nulty said. "We have worked to provide the guest with our full support. In line with our non-discrimination policy, this host has been permanently removed from the Airbnb platform."
Although society has made strides in combatting prejudice, it is still a daily reality for many Americans, Suh said.
"I mean, people thought with the election of President Obama, racism is over in this country," Suh said Feb. 17. "No. It's very much alive. It exists and it could happen to anyone. There's no bounds to racism, no matter what class you are, what your education level, no matter if you're an American citizen. What they see is I'm Asian, what they see is my race, and this is how we get treated."