Search filter for women and minority owned spaces

I have waited a long time before posting this, because it has to deal with racial issues which is a controversial subject that only someone who deals with it on a daily basis can relate to.

My fear has always been that I will post this and then receive dissenting views from people who don’t share the same experiences.

But I’ve had a few…experiences in the last few months that have encouraged me to throw caution to the wind and offer a suggestion to improve Peerspace, along with an explanation of why I feel that this would be an excellent addition.

I am a biracial man (African and Swedish) who looks vaguely Hispanic…or perhaps descended from a Middle Eastern nation (I have no idea the ‘correct’ way to put that, so bear with me if I said that wrong). My fiancee is Mexican and her son is tri-racial. We have a very colorful family.

In all of my businesses, I have faced challenges. People of color are often judged harsher, receiving more complaints or lower reviews, simply because of who they are.

Nowhere have I seen that more evident than as a Peerspace host.

I share a lot of the things that happen to me while hosting as a way to steel other hosts against possible situations they may encounter as a host.

What I rarely share however is how often these encounters have to do with ethnicity.

African Americans who have thought me to be Hispanic have left racially motivated reviews for me on Peerspace (and one even stalked me on Yelp!) because I charged them overtime. They asked for an hour of overtime, I gave it to them and they felt that they didn’t have to pay because…reasons. The level of racist comments they left for me were absolutely staggering.

Recently, I had a regular Caucasian female guest who began demanding that I ‘hide’ from her clients and ask her permission to use my own restroom in my own home. While she was here, I would overhear her talking to her clients about me and saying things like “you won’t even see him, I’m making sure that he is somewhere else” and whispering other comments.

She would then make constant demands while she was in my home and felt that she had the right to rearrange all of my furniture, or she would scold me if I changed anything (in my own home), or condescend to me when she spoke to me.

To be treated like a butler or a slave in my own home by a Caucasian woman was one of the biggest indignities I have ever faced.

She had booked my space several times in a short period of time, so I decided to stick with it, rather than report it to Peerspace and cancel her. I figured that nobody would believe me and I would “get in trouble” for an “unexcused cancellation”.

My fiancee and I agreed that we wouldn’t allow her back in our space and I raised my rates (and added a cleaning fee) enough that I was pretty sure we had priced her out.

After her last booking, she filed a bogus missed expectations report because I had a Christmas tree up.

I had sent her pictures of the tree in advance and she said nothing - NOTHING - about it while she was here. In fact, she was telling her client how amazing the shots turned out.

Other bookings have left me lowered four star reviews for absolutely no reason. One mentioned that the place was incredible and everything was perfect.

Other bookings have blatantly disregarded my house rules and destroyed furniture. One of those is in a Fairclaims dispute as we speak.

The evidence against her was incredibly stacked up and so she submitted a security camera video of me from over a year ago cussing out someone who had just ROBBED MY HOME. Because when I’m angry enough you can hear my ‘Blackccent’, she attempted to use this video to discredit me as a ghetto ‘thug’ to the Caucasian arbiter. It had absolutely nothing to do with the actual case.

I always say “never let them catch you riding dirty”. Our space is IMMACULATELY CLEAN. Everything is sanitized to the point where you could literally eat off the floors. I am always on camera in case there’s a dispute and I’m really cordial.

So in theory, I should never or very, very rarely experience this level of drama, yet I find myself dealing with nonsense pretty much every week now.

My theory is that these are what’s called ‘micro aggressions’ and I get them on maybe a quarter to a third of my bookings. Guest see ethnic hosts and they can’t stand having someone of a different ethnicity ‘in charge’.

Back at my old place, this was even worse. We hosted mostly off sites and events and the level of disrespect we endured made these last few months feel like a kiss on the cheek. It was…horrific. I rarely reported it though, as nobody would have believed me or cared if they did.

I’m so ethnically ambiguous that I am receiving what I perceive to be racially motivated harassment from almost everyone.

I think an excellent addition to the Peerspace platform would be a way for people to select ‘minority owned’ or ‘female owned’ businesses as a filter when searching for spaces.

For female owned businesses, it allows female photographers, producers, etc to feel safe when shooting nude models or…anything, really. I feel that men (and I’m a man and I see other men doing this) judging women too harshly or condescending to them.

Likewise, there are guests we’ve had that were unpleasantly surprised when they see a black guy answer the door in a suit. Even my profile pic is so ethnically ambiguous that people have told me they thought I was Italian or something.

These people have gone on to make disrespectful comments or gone out of their way to disrespect my home, such as trashing furniture, disobeying house rules, or catching an attitude with me. …or the comments. I could write for hours about some of the comments I’ve gotten.

I don’t play games when I host, so this sometimes leads to conflicts that not every host experiences.

In addition to the minority owned filter, maybe allow us to ‘hint’ at our ethnicity if we so choose.

On the flipside, minority renters want to feel safe in a space as well and may feel as though they will be too ‘watched’ or ‘mistrusted’ if the host is of certain persuasions.

And hey, if you’ve made it this far and disagree with me, please keep it to yourself just this one time. You gotta walk a mile in someone’s shoes and all that.

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Deacon, you are a big contributor to this forum and your honest thoughts from REAL experiences are incredibly insightful for everyone here. That you have to continue to endure these nightmare interactions makes me angry. That people seem to need to figure out your ethnic background before they decide how to treat you is sad. Worse, everyone seems to fit you into the ethnic group that they most feel they can degrade.

The filter that you suggest is a double edge sword. It would certainly attract those who are looking for a safe environment as you mention. It might also push people away. And maybe these are the people that you would not like to be engaging with in the first place. If so, then this would work.

I am no “if, and or buts about it,” white. When the sh*t went down with George Floyd and NYC erupted, my priority was to support BLM and support black/minority-owned businesses and non-profits in the arts. So, for me…if I were a renter…this filter would be a helpful guide. For others, the response may be different.

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Man, I totally agree with you on this!

I nearly shut down my listings about a week or so ago, because it was just taking too much out of me to constantly deal with silly situations.

I also felt as though bringing up these situations to Peerspace constantly was a little incredulous and made me seem like a drama queen or a troublemaker.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for my camera footage, even I wouldn’t believe my own stories.

Ultimately, what made me keep my listing is the saddest reason of all: People will treat folks like me poorly in pretty much every industry.

I thank you so much for the kind words, my friend. Maybe if not a minority owned and woman owned filter, maybe there could be some collaboration with associations like NAACP? I honestly just don’t know.

Hi Deacon

I think it’s so important for Peerspace and for us as a community of Hosts what is happening. I am boiling over the comments about “hiding” you. You can read my reviews and see how so many describe me as sweet, kind and the nicest person. When I read what happened to you I was triggered. I would have said “get the F…out of my house!” and I am very careful with my words and temper. I don’t use that kind of language in my everyday conversation. Some one like that needs a wake up call. Of course I know you’d probably get blamed for the whole thing if you did that. I have had amazing guests who are over the moon with gratitude. They are mostly African American and Latin American. Where I do find others who are snarky, rude and condescending is during the inquiry process.
I would like a feature that allows us to block people we have a bad experience with.

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Deacon,

I know you asked people not to disagree with you, but I will say this much. A filter for women and minority owned spaces is not the solution for the issues you describe. The owner is not always the host. In my own situation, I’m a female owner, but many times male site reps or my husband act as the host. So if someone would book my venue thinking that the female owner will be on site, they would be misled.

I have also had a few bad experiences with guests, but not nearly as many as you described. I’m also ethnically ambiguous. People think I’m Hispanic because of my name and accent, but I’m actually ethnic Hungarian from the Transylvania region of Romania. That’s a head scratcher, isn’t it?

I have been able to minimize bad experiences because I talk to guests at length and I ask them to schedule a walk through or a scout to make sure that we are the right fit. If I have a bad experience with a guest, I let them know. In the end, they would know that I would not book them again, and they would not try to book me again. No matter what the consequences, whether a possible issue with PeerSpace or loss of business, I respect myself more than to ever allow an abusive person to book my venue again.

The two worst experiences involved African Americans. In one case, three African Americans - a man and two women - came to my space without an appointment. They told me they were from a catering company a renter hired, and they were there to see the kitchen. It turned out the renter didn’t even know that the caterers were going to stop by.

We were just wrapping up a very hectic shoot (the guests almost burnt down my venue). Even though they didn’t have an appointment, I made sure to accommodate them. As they walked into the kitchen and they saw all the dishes on the shelves, they informed me they will be using them. When I told them that we have an extra charge for the plates, per our PeerSpace ad, they became upset. They told me they did not budget for the plates, and they will not be paying extra for them.

At that point, I told them I was not in the right frame of mind to deal with this situation and I asked if I could call them later to discuss it further. The man stormed out. I tried to explain to the two women that I had a very hectic day, I didn’t expect them to show up, and I just needed some time to figure things out. I was almost on the verge of tears. They told me they understood and we agreed that they would discuss the extra charge with the person who hired them and we’ll touch base afterwards.

A few days later the person who rented our venue called me to tell me that the African Americans did not like the way I handled the situation. The renter told me she really liked my venue but the only way she would hold her event there was if I would not be at the venue on the day of the event. I told her that I was impatient with the caterers but not disrespectful. The renter told me it’s very unfortunate but African Americans are very sensitive, and the caterers don’t want to see me at my own venue. And this was way before George Floyd.

At that point, I contacted two African American friends to ask them for their opinion. One of them suggested that I should tell the renter that if they wanted to ban me from my space, we would need to hire a site rep to substitute in for me, and they would have to pay the site rep’s hourly rate. I come with the space free of charge, but not a site rep. In the end, they relented and decided to “allow” me to stay. But then COVID-19 hit, so the event was cancelled after all.

The other incident involved an African American rapper. We have done enough music videos with African American rappers to know what we could expect. Hennessy cognac drinking, tobacco spitted out on the floor and the overwhelming smell of marijuana permeating the entire building. Surely, this rapper did not disappoint either. They walked in with Hennessy bottles and there was soon the smell of marijuana. I left them alone in the venue.

About half hour prior to the time they were supposed to wrap, I walked into the venue to check on them.

What I saw wasn’t a music video shoot but a party or after-party. A DJ was playing. No cameras or any kind of video equipment in sight. As I walked around the building, there were empty alcohol bottles - Hennessy, tequila, beer - everywhere. I saw the curtain drawn in one room with the lights on. As I peaked into the room, there it was - the rapper having sex with his girlfriend on the rug - both of them completely naked.

I took a photo of them because I knew that PeerSpace would not believe me if I didn’t have proof. I told the woman who was the renter that they must immediately leave the premises. I also told them that I had a photo of the rapper with his girlfriend. The rapper started threatening me that he would call the police on me for “sexual harassment” if I didn’t leave a positive review for them on PeerSpace.

I’m an attorney and not afraid of threats, especially not baseless threats. I reported the incident to PeerSpace. They asked me for proof of the incident, so I sent them the photo, and they had no choice but to believe my side of the story.

Despite having some bad experiences with African Americans, some of our best guests are African Americans - in fact, with some we have become even friends or business partners. I’m sharing these two bad experiences just to illustrate that bad apples come in different colors.

Hey Attila!
I didn’t mean to turn it into a racial thing against specific ethnicities, as I have had issues with almost every ethnicity (including being accused of discriminating against African Americans whom I charged a overtime to).

I agree with you about the female owned filter. My fiancee is female and while that would technically apply to us, I host more than she does and it might lead to someone feeling that we are deceptive.

I don’t really know what the answer is. It’s part of the reason I keep pushing to have star reviews eliminated. As a person of color, I feel as though I have to play the part of [

Stepin Fetchit

](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stepin_Fetchit) in order to ensure that I get a good review from certain guests.

It’s degrading and I can’t do it anymore. I know that me sticking up for myself is going to end up in lowered reviews and I just feel as if I could somehow indicate my ethnicity in advance, perhaps the troublemakers just wouldn’t book.

I feel like an idiot for not cancelling her bookings. To be HONEST honest, we also needed the money, but at one point she had me so pissed off that I was ready to cancel her remaining bookings anyways, but my fiancee talked me out of it so that I wouldn’t get penalized for an “unexcused cancellation”.

My recommendation to Peerspace is to start siding with their hosts a little more. Customers are a dime a dozen. You drop thirty and 45 more come running the next day. But hosts…don’t let your hosts burn out, because it takes a special kind of location and it takes a special kind of person to BE a host. That’s a little more rare.

Having to constantly pull footage from security cameras in order to prove myself or exonerate myself just sucks.

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The option to search for women-owned, LGBTQ+, or BIPOC, would be a welcome addition to the platform by all means.

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