25-year-old law student Dyne Suh booked a cabin on Airbnb in Running Springs, California, near Big Bear Lake, for her and her fiancé on President's Day Weekend. She says that she had booked the property about a month before her trip, and then corresponded with the owner to ask if she could add two more people to the reservation, and was told that was fine. But as she and her friends approached the area on a night of heavy snow on February 17, she reached out again to the owner, who swiftly canceled her stay and plainly told her it was because she was Asian. When Suh protested and told her she would have her kicked off the Airbnb platform for racism, the woman replied "Go ahead" and "This is why we have Trump."
KTLA was the first to report the story, although they waited two months to do so for reasons that aren't entirely clear. Suh happened to see the KTLA crew in Big Bear the night of the incident, reporting on the snow storm, just as she and her friends were hunting for a new place to stay, and she gave the tearful on-camera interview you see above.
"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,” said Suh. “That people who held these racist beliefs felt emboldened.”
Suh is a US citizen, and notes that one of the things the woman said to her in their exchange was "I will not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners."
The woman, identified only as Tami, appeared to be making a last-minute stink about the deal they had already made about including four people in the reservation, saying in one of her first messages, "If you think 4 people and 2 dogs ate getting a room fir $50 a night on big bear mountain during the busiest weekend of the year .. You are insanely high." But she went on to call Suh a "con artist" and "One word says it all. Asian."
Suh and her party were reimbursed fully by Airbnb and offered reimbursement for a hotel as well, but within two hours, despite the snow, they managed to find another cabin to stay in. She narrated the tale on Facebook right after it happened.
Airbnb spokesperson Nick Papas assures the Washington Post that the woman has been banned from the Airbnb platform, and says the woman's behavior was "abhorrent and unacceptable." He added that the company "worked to provide the guest with our full support and in line with our nondiscrimination policy."
NBC Los Angeles got a hold of the host, who has not been identified, and she had no comment.
In comments on the Facebook post, Suh said that the host was apparently a college professor, remarking, "Racists are everywhere."
One of the friends on the trip also commented saying, "The f***ing woman nearly killed us tonight. We basically ended up stuck up the mountain with no where to stay and the snow coming down harder and harder."
Over a year ago, a study by a group of Harvard Business School researchers found widespread racism at work on the Airbnb platform an issue compounded by the site's use of profile pictures, which they've responded to by making the thumbnail images smaller. The company has tried to get serious about the issue, hiring former attorney general Eric Holder to craft their non-discrimination policy and cracking down on property owners who violate it.
Last year, CEO Brian Chesky said, "We weren’t fully conscious of this issue when we designed the platform," but he said, "After speaking to many of you, I have learned that there have at times been a lack of urgency to work on this, and we need to rectify that immediately."