Dyne Suh was excited for a relaxing weekend at a cozy Airbnb rental in Big Bear, California. But after driving over 50 miles during a flash flood warning, the property owner refused to allow Suh and her friends to rent the home.
The Airbnb host allegedly canceled the reservation because Suh is Asian, Suh claimed in a tearful interview with NBC Los Angeles' Hetty Chang.
“It just really stings," said Suh, a University of California Los Angeles law student, in a vide posted by reporter Steve Kuzj. “If you’re Asian, you’re less than human. People can treat you like trash.”
Suh initially had no problem booking out the home for President’s Day weekend. She contacted the host to see if she could bring additional guests, and was told that was okay but she would need to pay extra. During the drive up, Suh messaged the host to see how much money she owed.
The host allegedly denied ever having said that Suh could bring additional guests, telling her she must be “high” if she thought that was allowed.
The host canceled the trip when Suh and her friends were just minutes away, telling Suh, “One word says it all. Asian.”
Suh posted screenshots of the Airbnb messages on Facebook, which show the host allegedly telling Suh, “I wouldn’t rent to u if u were the last person on earth,” and “I will not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners. It’s why we have Trump.”
Airbnb’s nondiscrimination policy clearly spells out that hosts may not refuse guests based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. A company spokesperson told NBC San Diego that the host had been permanently banned from the site and called the actions "abhorrent and unacceptable."
The room-sharing app has struggled to combat racism in the past few years. Scan through the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack and you’ll find numerous instances of black people being told that the rental they inquired about was just booked or that the hosts actually weren’t going to be out of town that weekend. A 2015 study out of Harvard confirmed that that those with African American sounding names were about 15 percent less likely to be rented to than those with white sounding names.
In September, the company rolled out a plan to combat discrimination, which included assembling a team whose sole mission was to eradicate discrimination on the platform, tools to make tagging offensive incidents easier, and expanding Instant Bookings, in which users don’t have to go back and forth with hosts.
But despite the tech company’s efforts, Suh’s experience shows that the platform still has work to do.
“There’s no bounds to racism,” Suh said in the video. “What they see is that I’m Asian. What they see is my race.”