Bob Marley’s Granddaughter Is The Latest #AirbnbWhileBlack Victim

Written by Ann Brown

#BlackWhileAirBnBing and #AirbnbWhileBlack still remains an issue, even after the company vowed to address the concerns of many Airbnb renters and owners who have been discriminated against.

Bob Marley’s granddaughter says she is going to sue the California Police after they mistook her for an Airbnb burglar. Donisha Prendergast and two other friends–who are also Black–say they were racially profiled had actually rented the Airbnb  in Rialto, California, they were accused of burglarizing. Apparently a neighbor, who through the three were breaking into the home, called the police.

Fyffe-Marshall wrote in a Facebook post. “They informed us that there was also a helicopter tracking us. They locked down the neighborhood and had us standing in the street.”

Prendergast, a 33-year-old filmmaker, Kells Fyffe-Marshall, and Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan were packing their luggage when a neighbor called the police, reportedly saying she saw “three Black people stealing stuff.” “The neighbor had also reportedly waved at the group but they didn’t acknowledge her back, which contributed to her calling the police. Both Prendergast and Fyffe-Marshall posted a video of the incident on their social media,” Okay Player reported.

On top of this, the owner of the Airbnb blamed her three guests for the mishap. “If the kids had simply smiled at (my neighbor) and waved back and acknowledged her and said, ‘We’re just Airbnb guests checking out,’ none of this would have ever happened,” she said. “But instead, they were rude, unkind, not polite.”

The three women have served the Rialto Police Department with notice of a pending lawsuit. “They have a right not to smile,” said attorney Jasmine Rand at a news conference in New York. “We don’t want to live in an America where Black people are forced to smile at white people to preserve their lives.”

Airbnb hasn’t gotten a handle of the discrimination countless of Black travelers have complained about. The company hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to help it craft an anti-discrimination policy in 2016.

“Airbnb is committed to building a community where everyone can belong, no matter who they are or what they look like. I’m eager to help them craft policies that will be the model for companies who share Airbnb’s commitment to diversity and inclusion,” he said in a statement.

Airbnb also released a 32-page report in 2016 on how it planned to fight discrimination.

Airbnb said that what happened to the guests in Rialto was “unconscionable.” Laura W. Murphy, a senior adviser, and Janaye Ingram, the head of national partnerships, sent a letter to Rialto’s police chief and mayor to request a meeting.

“We are deeply disturbed by the public reports suggesting that the police department’s response was dictated by the guests’ race,” the two wrote. “As African-American women who have seen the inequitable treatment of people of color, we know that these kinds of incidents are often rooted in implicit and explicit bias. They are hurtful, discriminatory, traumatic and must end.”

 

 

Sign up for the Moguldom newsletter — the most compelling business news you need to know about reversing inequality in tech, delivered straight to your inbox.


About Ann Brown
Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence, MadameNoire.com, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.

View Comments