Airbnb Host Hurls Racial Slurs Before Evicting Black Guests
|thenorthstar||Jun 5, 2019|
A group of friends who were staying at an Airbnb in New York City on Saturday, June 1 were evicted from a townhouse by their host who called them “monkey.” In a viral Twitter thread, user Kartoon_1911, who was identified as Kenneth Simpson by The Washington Post, posted several tweets and two videos about the incident. Simpson wrote that he and a group of friends had reserved a home in New York City and were “harassed several times before being thrown out at 2 a.m.”
“Her reasonings were because she felt unsafe, she assumed we were going to... steal and destroy her property. After being harassed by her nonstop, she then told us to ‘Get the [expletive] out of her house immediately!’ We cooperated and began to pack our things to leave,” Simpson wrote. Simpson added that the Airbnb host burst into one of their rooms with a camera. The video posted by Simpson shows an Asian woman, who was identified by Simpson as Kate, talking to a Black man while another man records in the background. The woman can be heard telling the man that she now has to ask the group to leave.
One of the men asks Kate what her Airbnb description reads, and she claims that it read that the townhouse does not accept pets or parties. The man then says her complaint was not about one of the men’s dogs, and notes that her listing stated it slept five people — four in a room and one on a couch. She then can be heard asking the men, “which monkey is going to stay on the couch?” The men stated that they called the police department because of the woman’s behavior.
“We are a group of 4 educated and working professionals and were classified as criminals and animals over and over again. This was very traumatic for us, personally,” Simpson wrote. “She became so angry, rude, and disrespectful that we had to call @NYPD because we weren’t sure if she’d attack us... while trying to leave.” The North Star has reached out to Simpson for comment about the incident but did not hear back in time for publication.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Simpson, 28, said he felt “dehumanized” by the incident. “I thought, is this where we are today? We made a point that we’re educated, working professionals,” Simpson told the publication. “And it doesn’t even matter if you’re an educated person, because no one deserves to be called a monkey and be dehumanized for no reason."
Simpson, who is from Alexandria, Virginia and works in health IT told The Post that he and a few of his friends traveled to New York City for a weekend getaway. He and a friend drove in from Washington, two flew in from Chicago and Houston, and the fifth friend lives in New York.
When the group of friends arrived at the townhouse in the Upper East Side late Friday night, they found the home was shared and not an entire-unit rental as was advertised. The group was also given permission to bring a dog in a crate, but the homeowners complained about the dog when they arrived, according to The Post. The host’s boyfriend also asked the men to turn down their music and keep their voices low, which made the men feel uncomfortable. However, the men decided they would stick it out until they found another place to stay in the morning.
Then, Kate came upstairs to where the men were staying and said they had to leave, which is when the men began recording, the publication reported. Meshawn Cisero, one of Simpson’s friends, told The Root that Kate’s insults hurt even more because she is a woman of color. “I felt like she should’ve related to us to a degree, but that feeling was quickly removed,” Cisero told the publication.
Airbnb told The North Star in a statement that the hosts have been removed from the housing platform.
“The language used in this video is unacceptable and has no place in the Airbnb community. We have a strict nondiscrimination policy, which we are enforcing to remove the host from our platform,” the statement read. “We are supporting Mr. Cisero and his friends, and we're thankful to them for bringing this to our attention so that we could take action.”
About the Author
Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.