UCLA law student Dyne Suh and her friends excitedly headed towards Big Bear, Calif., in February, where they had reserved an Airbnb rental for a relaxing weekend amidst flash flood warnings and heavy snowfall. She expected a calm weekend at a cabin with her boyfriend, dog and two friends, but was given a reminder of the current tense political atmosphere and the racism that plagues society.
When the group was just minutes away from their rental cabin, Suh messaged the host, Tami Barker, to confirm the group’s stay. But their reservation was abruptly cancelled, for one reason specifically: Dyne Suh is Asian.
“I wouldn’t rent to u if u were the last person on earth,” Barker’s text read. “One word says it all. Asian.”
Left out in the snow with no place to reside, Suh had a tearful interview with NBC Los Angeles, mentioning how excited she was to relax and get away from everyday responsibilities that came with law school.
After informing Barker that she was reporting her to Airbnb for racism and discrimination, the host seemed unfazed, telling her that she will not allow a foreigner to tell her what to do and “that’s why we have Trump.” Suh, an American citizen who has been in the United States since she came to this country from South Korea at age 3, filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
On July 13 the department issued the punishment for the racist host, ordering her to pay the student a total of $5,000 in damages, as well as take a college level course on Asian-American studies.
“As part of the agreement reached with DFEH, the Airbnb Host issued a personal apology to Ms. Suh and agreed to comply with anti-discrimination laws, to attend training, to take a college level course in Asian American studies, to participate in a community education panel, to perform volunteer service at a civil rights organization, and to report rental data to DFEH for a period of four years,” the department said in a press release.
Suh is also celebrating her win, writing her own statement on Facebook.
“I am very glad that the outcome of this case includes taking an Asian American studies course,” Suh said. “Asian Americans are often left out of conversations about race relations, even though we are also targets of racism and discrimination. The more we speak out, the harder it becomes for people to ignore, deny, or trivialize our lived experiences of being discriminated against like this day-to-day.”
Since the Trump administration came into office, hate crimes have gone up 20 percent in nine metropolitan areas, fueled by inflamed passions, and willingness for victims to step forward. Bias crimes have also increased following the November 8 election.
But this isn’t the first instance of discrimination on Airbnb, who previously had to enforce stricter guidelines after a trend on twitter “#AirbnbWhileBlack” exposed the difficulties that comes with finding a place to rent, and the hidden biases that hosts have.