A cellphone video of the Saturday exchange shows the host, identified only as Kate on her Airbnb profile, referring to the five men as “monkeys.”
She appeared to take issue with the number of people who arrived at her home, claiming her listing indicated a maximum group size of four. The friends push back in the clip, pointing out that her listing said the home slept four people plus one person on a sofa.
“Which monkey is gonna stay on the couch?” the woman shot back.
One of the friends, Kenneth Simpson, told The Washington Post the racist exchange left him feeling “very dehumanized.”
“I thought, is this where we are today? We made a point that we’re educated, working professionals. And it doesn’t even matter if you’re an educated person, because no one deserves to be called a monkey and be dehumanized for no reason,” Simpson said.
Simpson and his friends said their experience at the host’s home “felt off” from the get-go.
For one thing, the listing had been advertised as an entire-unit rental, Simpson told the Post. But when the friends got there, they discovered they had to share the space. Simpson said the host also agreed to let them bring a dog in a crate, but took issue with the animal when they arrived.
Meshawn Cisero, another friend in the group, told The Root that the woman’s partner told them to keep their voices down on two occasions, but was “polite” in his interactions with them.
At around 1 in the morning, Cisero said they met the host for the first time.
“You need to get the fuck out, you guys are too loud,” she allegedly told them.
“That’s when things escalated,” Cisero said. “No ‘hi,’ no greeting. We were all confused. As soon as she came in, she told us to ‘Get the fuck out.’”
Cisero said the woman called them “criminals” and claimed “she didn’t feel safe around us.”
“She said we were going to damage her property and steal from her,” Cisero said.
After calling the police and discovering that they had no recourse against the host, the group said they left and “eventually found a hotel.”
Airbnb responded to the incident on Sunday, calling the language used by the host “unacceptable.” The company said she has been banned from the platform. Airbnb also said it helped the guests find “a new place to stay.”
Cisero said the incident had put a dampener on the friends’ weekend.
“We missed plans with friends ... we missed over half our stay in New York because of this ordeal,” he told The Root.
Simpson described the encounter as “another real-life situation where we had to experience the feeling of hopelessness as a black American.”
The hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack was revived on social media following the friends’ experience. Airbnb has long been dogged by racist complaints, including a high-profile incident last year involving Bob Marley’s granddaughter.
Donisha Prendergast said she and a group of friends were stopped by police while leaving an Airbnb in California after a neighbor called the cops on them, alleging that “three black people [were] stealing stuff.”