Race

Three Black Women Say NYC Hotel Staff Thought They We Prostitutes

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Three black women say the staff at New York City’s upscale Standard Hotel accused them of being prostitutes when several men offered to buy them drinks in the hotel restaurant.

Kantaki Washington, Cydney Madlock and J. Lyn Thomas told Alternet that they had just come down from the bar on the top floor of The Standard on Aug. 28, when several men in the lobby approached them and offered to buy them drinks.

When they sat down at a hotel restaurant a man approached Washington and introduced himself. She says moments later a security guard whispered something to the man and ushered him away.

The security guard later came to the table and said, “Come on, ladies. You can buy a drink but you can’t be soliciting,” Washington recalled in an interview with Alternet.

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“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?’” she said.

“I’m a lawyer,” Washington told the security guard, “and these women are educators. What the hell would I be in here soliciting prostitution?”

She says the man responded, “I don’t know but that’s what you’re doing.”

Washington said they were the only black females in the vicinity and she believes she and her friends were racially profiled.

"It's beyond what I can imagine could happen in 2014. Three black women, and the only reason why we could be there is because we're soliciting for sex? That's ridiculous," Thomas told AlterNet. "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."

“He was being rude,” Madlock said. “It was embarrassing and we don’t know who was in that restaurant. My principal could have been in there. What kind of effect would that have been on my career?”

When Washington demanded to know the security guard’s name and asked to see his manager, he gave her his first name only and directed her to the reception desk. She says the manager didn’t take responsibility for the guard’s actions and met her complaint with indifference. The manager allegedly said the security guard wasn’t a staff member, he was outsourced.

Weeks later she and her friends were invited back to the hotel with an offer of a bottle of champagne followed by dinner for four at The Standard Grill, but none of the emails from the hotel addressed the prostitution allegations.

“We should have some formal apology,” Madlock said. “And the $400 dinner, we all have careers. That’s nothing. We can afford that ourselves. If I want champagne … what is that? I felt like [the security guard] was talking to me like a dog in the street.”

Sources: Alternet (2), Mic.com

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons / Brandon Baunach, Flickr / Tom Arthur