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.