On Friday, a group of friends arrived in New York City for a weekend away together. They flew in from all across the U.S. and booked an Airbnb in Manhattan for the length of their stay. On the night of their arrival, however, a racist exchange with their Airbnb host left them reeling – and searching for alternate accommodations in the middle of the night.
According to a now viral thread of tweets by Kenneth Simpson Jr., one of the friends, the men were led to believe that they were booking two private bedrooms on the top floor of an owner-on-site Upper East Side residence, and that it would be alright if they listened to music during their stay. Around 2 a.m., however, the owner decided that they were being too loud, and asked them to pack their things and go.
That's when things got heated.
The friends claim that they were complying and packing up their things, when the owner – who is only referred to as Kate on the Airbnb listing – returned and began filming them. They then called the police and took out their phones to record the interaction, as well.
"I felt like she'd attack us if we hadn't called the police. I felt like she'd possibly accuse us of sexual assault if we hadn't pulled out our cameras," Simpson wrote on Twitter. "This was just another real-life situation where we had to experience the feeling of hopelessness as a Black American."
As the men filmed on their phones, they debated with Kate over the maximum number of occupants allowed in the rooms. She argues that the listing is for a maximum of four people. The men counter that the listing says it sleeps four people plus an extra on the couch.
"Which monkey is gonna stay on the couch?" she then asks, utilizing a racial epithet, which has now incensed social media users across the world and revived the viral hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack.
"We are a group of 4 educated and working professionals and were classified as criminals and animals over and over again," Simpson continued in his post. "This was very traumatic for us, personally. She became so angry, rude, and disrespectful that we had to call @NYPD because we weren't sure if she'd attack us."
Airbnb has now deactivated the woman's account. The company also replied to a response on Simpson's Twitter thread, stating: "The language is unacceptable and has no place in the Airbnb community. We've removed the host from our platform and are supporting the guests with a new place to stay. We're thankful to them for bringing this to our attention so we could take action."