Kantaki Washington and her two friends, Cydney Madlock and J. Lyn Thomas, walked into the lobby of the Standard Hotel in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District on August 28.
The lawyer and two teachers had just been at the bar at the top of the hotel.
A man offered to buy them drinks when they sat down in the restaurant on the bottom floor.
The four began to chat when a security guard came up behind them, whispered something in the man’s ear and told him to walk away.
Washington told AlterNet,
After the security guard ushers the brotha away, he comes over to me and my friends and says, ‘Come on, ladies. You can buy a drink but you can’t be soliciting.’ We were like, soliciting? He said, ‘Don’t act stupid with me, ladies. You know what you’re doing. Stop soliciting in here. We were like, ‘Soliciting what?’
It was at this point they realized that, as far this security guard knew, the only reason three good-looking black women would ever be talking to a man in a hotel restaurant was because they were prostitutes.
Washington fired back,
Dude, I’m a lawyer and these women are educators. Why the hell would I be in here soliciting prostitution?
But the security guard was already convinced.
The three women were not dressed provocatively, but after taking a look around, they discovered they were the only black people in the room.
The guard replied,
I don’t know but that’s what you’re doing.
A furious Washington ordered the guard to give her his name and that of his manager.
He directed her to the manager but gave just his first name.
The manager didn’t seem to care because the security guard was outsourced and technically not one of his employees.
Washington received an email from the hotel a few weeks later inviting her and three guests for a free dinner for four and bottle of champagne.
She wrote back asking about the security guard’s accusation, and while the reply did offer an apology, there was no explanation of what had happened.
According to AlterNet, the email from the hotel said,
Again, I want to apologize for what happened to you here that evening. We are extending this table for 4 as a gesture of goodwill for you and your friends, plus one more person. Please let me know when you would like to come back.
Thomas, a dance instructor in Brooklyn, says the dinner wasn’t sufficient because the security guard embarrassed them in front of a huge crowd.
It was very dehumanizing and very degrading. He did it in front of the entire restaurant and they were watching the whole scene. It was humiliating. I’m still in shock. I still can’t believe that happened.
The display of racial profiling is frighteningly similar to what happened to actress Daniele Watts, who was mistaken for a prostitute when police saw her kissing her white husband.
via AlterNet, Photo Courtesy: Standard Hotel