Dallas woman wants compensation after confrontation with racist hotel employee
TAMMYE NASH | Managing Editor
EDITOR’S NOTE: This written statement came to Dallas Voice via email at 4:52 p.m. Thursday, May 26, after the print version of this article had already gone to press: “On behalf of the Fairfield Inn & Suites Dallas Park Central…..We have spoken directly with the guest to apologize for this experience. We take this matter seriously, and have taken appropriate steps to address it internally. Our hotel is committed to providing an environment where everyone feels welcome.”
Jermisha Frazier, who describes herself as a “5’10” Black, queer woman with a ’fro,” is asking that Marriott Hotels pay her $50,000 to cover the cost of culturally-competent therapy to deal with the aftermath of a racist encounter earlier this year with an employee at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Dallas Park Central.
Frazier, who lives in Dallas and is the coordinator for the Women’s and LGBT Center at SMU University, said that she had reserved a room at the hotel for March 29 as a “bit of a staycation. I was just looking for a little relaxation, and because I stay at Marriott hotels frequently, I had the points to use for that.”
Frazier said that she arrived at the hotel, located at 9230 Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway, around 11:30 p.m. She said she walked up to the front doors carrying her luggage to find the door locked. There was a sign that said to ring the door bell, but when she couldn’t find the bell, she tried to get the attention of the front desk representative.
“He was standing there, doing whatever he could just to avoid making eye contact with me,” Frazier said. When he finally opened the doors to let her in, she said, the man “had a bit of an attitude,” telling her she should have made a reservation in advance. She said she had done just that, but deciding she was not willing to deal with the man’s disrespect, she said, she told him to cancel her reservation and she would go elsewhere. He continued to argue with her, telling her she never had a reservation and refusing to give her the contact information for the hotel’s owner or management.
During that argument, Frazier said, “I can’t remember his exact words, but he made a negative comment about my natural hair. I said, ‘Well, that was a racist comment,’ and he just got irate. He came out from behind the counter and came at me.”
Frazier said that even though the employee was a smaller man and she is a larger woman, at that point she became concerned for her own safety. She said the man said he was going to call security, and she asked him to do that. Given interactions between police and Blacks and other minorities in recent years, Frazier said she was not comfortable calling police.
Frazier said that as she and the employee were waiting for the security officer to arrive, she took out her phone and began to video the man’s behavior. “When security got there, I told him that [the front desk receptionist] had made a racist comment about my hair.”
At that point, she said, “He started coming right at me, yelling about how he wasn’t a racist, etc. You can see it on the video, the way he was coming out me. I asked him, ‘Did you or did you not make a comment about my hair?’ And he said, ‘Yep, I sure did, and it’s nappy.’”
Frazier said the security officer told the other man to give her the owner’s contact information, and when he finally did so, she walked out of the hotel with the security officer, “a male of color” who was “very apologetic about the way I had been treated, and he told me that the [front desk employee] would often treat him the same way.”
She said she believes the man’s perception of her sexual orientation also played a role in the way he treated her.
Frazier said she has spoken with the general manager of the Fairfield Inn & Suites, who told her that the employee had been fired.
But that, she said, is “the bare minimum” response she wants to see. She said she has spoken with Marriott’s corporate office at least seven times — “They have on file that I have spoken with someone seven times” — and that she has also spoken with a representative of the risk management company that investigates claims for Marriott. That man was “not very empathetic and said he does not deal with stuff like this because there was no physical damage, no property damage.”
She said she has been offered Marriott points and that the risk management representative offered her “a couple hundred dollars.”
But that is not sufficient to make up for the stress and trauma she endured, and for the hours she has had to take out of her work days since to try and resolve the problem.
“I should never have had to experience such a traumatic moment. I have had to constantly relive this moment since then. They need to understand that this is not something that is ok, and that my feelings about what happened are valid,” Frazier said. “In this current climate when Black people, Black lives are discarded and disregarded and disrespected, I refuse to sit back and tolerate that. … I demand to be compensated. I intend to get them to understand and believe that this was a real, valid experience, and that it is ongoing. It is still not over; it is lingering over me like a cloud.
“They gave me some points and closed my case,” she continued. “I never asked them for points; that won’t rectify this situation.
They are ignoring me. I am a layperson, so they don’t care what I have to say. … But I want Marriott to know this isn’t something I will just let go.”
Dallas Voice has contacted Marriott for a response but as of press time has received no response.