Haven’t we all enjoyed a good 4 or 5 star hotel? Have you? Do you know what it feels like to have a thick, plush robe ready for you strategically placed on your kind sized bed on the 56th floor over looking the city? The ocean? Have you ordered room service? How about a good massage offered by the hotel? An upscale bar on the rooftop? Have you traveled or experienced upscale hotels, restaurants, vacation clubs?
REVIEWS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
I have. I have had the opportunity to dine, sleep, vacation and ski at a couple of the best. It is no secret that luxury wins.
NOW, FOR THE REALITY…
Tasha is a single mom of 4. She works as an administrative assistant and a law firm in downtown Philadelphia. She is a dedicated mom, and manages to have all 4 kids fed and ready for school by 7:30am each morning and off to the bus stop. Tasha is no stranger to struggle. Her admin job pays her just enough to barely make ends meet each month. On Oct. 8th 2019, Tasha was asked to come into her supervisor’s office. Not knowing what to think, she entered unsure of what he was possibly going to say. “Tasha, sit down. We would like to offer you a weekend getaway for yourself and your children. You have shown us dedication, compassion with our clients and you are a real example of what this company represents. For your efforts, the team and I just want to give you this as a thank you.”
WHAT? ARE YOU SERIOUS?
Tasha was shocked yet relieved. She gladly accepted the kind gesture and immediately went back to her desk proud and happy. On her lunch break, Tasha decided to look up hotels and things to do on her weekend get a way with her kids. Money was not an option as she was told. Tasha could only dream of staying at a 4 or 5 star hotel. She had never had the opportunity.
Tasha got home and started packing. She told the kids an in delight, they all started getting ready. Tasha’s kids are 13, 10, 6, and 4. Two boys, two girls. Everyone was so excited and to top it off, they were going to stay at a luxury hotel. Tasha was so proud of this fact. She wanted her kids to have this experience that she herself had never had. She carefully read all the reviews of all the hotels, restaurants, and activities that she was interested in and booked accordingly.
Even down to the limousine that she booked to take her and the kids to the airport.
“We out!” Shouts Tasha as the limousine pulls up to her home. This limousine company got 5 out of 5 stars on Google. Tasha approaches the limo with kids in tow. The driver remains in the sedan. “Hmm..ok” thought Tasha, so she and the boys loaded up the trunk and proceeded to get in the car. The driver greeted her with a forced smile and asked where were they headed. She told him the destination, and the only other words uttered out of the driver’s mouth was “Please no eating or drinking in the car and please keep your feet on the floor” was the only conversation that was had until they were at the terminal. Tasha couldn’t help but to think back to the many positive reviews on the review site that she had seen. Distracted by her ultimate destination, Tasha brushed it off and headed to the gate.
UP, UP, AND AWAY!
Tasha and the kids were flying high at 32,000 feet smooth sailing. One thing about this particular airline that Tasha loved so much, was their reputation for on time arrivals and departures. The boys were sitting behind her and the girls. They had gotten in an intense round of UNO and were having a ball. Apparently, the toddler 8 rows back was having just as much fun or more because of all the laughing one minute and crying the next. Didn’t bother Tasha, she’d been there 4 times already and totally understood. As the airline attendant made her way from the back, she slowed down at Tasha’s row and leaned over asking, “Are these your kids?” Tasha replied , “Yes.” “We really appreciate you choosing our airline for your trip, however if you could ask your boys to quiet down?” said the attendant.
Tasha looked in amazement. She had been hearing this loud White toddler 8 rows back most of the flight. She knew that if she heard the baby, everyone else did too. She was very confused. Yes, her boys were vocal but loud? Nah. Tasha turned back and said, “Hey yall, bring it down a tad” to her boys. They complied. Tasha leaned over and fell asleep.
HOTEL, MOTEL, HOLIDAY INN..SAY WHAT?
Yasss Bih! Is all Tasha could think about as she and her kids approached the very luxurious 5 star hotel. She had only dreamed that she would get the opportunity to visit this $467.00 per night establishment. She had envisioned it being on her honeymoon but that is a whole other story. They small family approached the desk ready and excited to check in. Tasha’s colleagues at the law firm had told her many stories of this place. From the marble floors, to the exquisite dining experience. This was the place to be. The 28 foot waterfall greeted them behind the checkout desk. The chandeliers and perfectly placed imported furniture was breathtaking. To say she was appreciative was an understatement. All she wanted to do was get to her room, shower, and relax.
DO YOU TAKE YOUR RACISM WITH CREAM, SUGAR OR BOTH?
“Hello ma’am. How are you? Are you waiting for someone?” Was the FIRST thing out of the desk clerk’s mouth. “No, I am checking in” says Tasha. “Okaaay” replies the clerk. It was more than clear that this clerk had not seen the likes of a single Black mom with 4 kids with very modest luggage and baggage. The clerk proceeded to appear to be pulling up her reservation. It was taking a very long time. “Is there something wrong?” asked Tasha. No reply. “Do you need my ID?” The clerk never looked up, just gave her the wait a minute sign with her hand. The clerk then goes to the in house phone and turns her back so that Tasha could not make out what she was saying. The clerk comes back to the desk and says, “Yes, I’ll need your ID and credit card for incidentals.” Tasha was already ready. She handed over her ID and credit card. The clerk took both and stared at them just long enough for Tasha to identify with the common bias that she had experienced her whole life. “Ok great, we have a room for you. “Ok.” says Tasha. By now the kids were getting restless and began to play in the lobby at the other waterfall just like other kids that were there.
I KNOW YOU LYING.
Tasha and the kids made way to the elevator. Tasha soon realized that they gave her a room on the 3rd floor. She knew that when she made the reservation, that she specifically noted that she wanted a room on the 50th floor overlooking the city. Nope, she got the 3rd floor. Ok, fine she thought. Upon opening the room door of this beautiful hotel, she was in amazement at how very beautiful the room was. The fact that she was on the 3rd floor was an afterthought. She just wanted to begin her weekend with her family. When Tasha went to open the curtains, the view was the parking lot and 2 brick walls from adjacent buildings. The only part of the city she was to see, was the corner of a sky scraper and it was very uneventful. She was going to let it slide, but realized that who knows when she’d get the chance to come to this hotel again. She made her way to the front desk to ask to move. “Excuse me, I don’t like the view of the room I was given and would like to change rooms please.” She said politely. The clerk ‘checked’ the computer and said that she would look to let her know. Meanwhile, a White couple came up to the desk and asked if there were any rooms available for the night. They were told that they have plenty of rooms and even asked the couple what floor would they like.
5 Stars for whom?
Almost simultaneously the clerk helping Tasha informed her that there were no other rooms available. Wow. Really? Tasha could not believe what she was hearing. It was surreal. She immediately asked the clerk if she heard her colleague tell the White couple that there were rooms. The clerk was stuck and had no choice but to suddenly ‘find’ a room available. Tasha and her children ended up in a very nice room on the 26th floor. The weekend was great and fun. The hotel was incredible physically, however, internally it was 5 stars. For some. Like justice.
This happens all the time. This is common in our communities. Subtle and in your face racism are intertwined in the fabric of some of these establishments. I am very happy that Tasha was able to make the best of the situation. She is better than me because I would have let the whole lobby know what was taking place. So the next time you are looking for a place to vacation or stay, make sure you know that there is now another option. The REAL review. The ‘cousins’ review.
Occupation: Business Owner
Location: Charlotte, NC
“You don’t get what you want, you get what you are so be nice.”