In February, Dyne Suh, a 26-year-old law clerk, made a reservation through Airbnb to stay at a cabin owned by a California woman named Tami Barker. Everything appeared to be in order until Barker abruptly canceled Suh’s reservation just minutes before she was supposed to arrive.
Barker first told Suh via a text message that she had canceled the reservation because Suh was bringing extra people along, although the two had already agreed in past conversations that that would be okay. When Suh pushed back at Barker and reminded her of the agreement, Barker responded with the following comment:
‘I wouldn’t rent it to u if u were the last person on earth. One word says it all. Asian.’
When Suh told Barker that she was going to complain to Airbnb about her racist remarks, Barker replied:
‘It’s why we have Trump…and I will not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners.’
This is certainly not the first incident of racial discrimination to occur since Trump took office in January. However, this is one of the few where some semblance of justice has been served.
Barker has been ordered by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to make a personal apology to Suh and pay her $5,000 in damages. She also has to take a college-level Asian American studies course, participate in a community education panel, and volunteer with a civil rights organization.
According to The Guardian, Kevin Kish, the director of DFEH, had this to say about Barker’s punishment:
‘We were thinking pretty creatively with this agreement. The law tends to be backwards-looking, focusing on compensating people for harm. We’re interested in remedies that repair harm and transform relationships.’
Barker’s attorney has released the following statement on her behalf:
‘While regretful for her impetuous actions and comments made on the evening of Feb. 17, 2017, Miss Barker is pleased to have resolved her claims with Miss Dyne Suh and the DFEH in a manner that can hopefully bring a positive outcome out of an unfortunate incident.’
Shortly after receiving the racist text message from Barker, Suh posted a video on YouTube describing her feelings about the matter. In the video, Suh explained that she has lived in the United States since she was three years old. She also tearfully told viewers that racism is “very much alive” in this country.
‘I’ve been here since I was 3 years old. America is my home. I consider myself an American. But this woman discriminates against me for being Asian. She canceled on us when we were just three minutes away from the house.
‘I just feel so hurt. People thought: “Oh, with the election of President Obama racism is over in this country.” No, it’s very much alive, it exists and it could happen to anyone…no matter what class you are, no matter what your education level, no matter if you’re an American citizen, what they see is that I’m Asian. What they see is my race, and this is how we get treated.
‘It stings that after living in the US 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.’
Watch Suh’s video describing the situation in the video below, available via YouTube.
Featured image is a screenshot from the video.