Waiting While Black?

Foundation president Dori Maynard was hustled out of a Washington, D.C., hotel lobby while waiting for a friend. In a Q&A with The Root, she says she's still seeking an explanation.

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On Oct. 30, when thousands were gathered in Washington, D.C., for Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity, Dori Maynard faced a moment of insanity. Maynard, president of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, was thrown out of a Hampton Inn in the nation's capital for reasons that are still unexplained.

In a recent blog post, Maynard talked about the incident and attempted to understand the reasoning behind what happened. At one moment on that October morning, she was in the hotel lobby waiting for a colleague, and the next moment, she had a general manager escorting her out of the hotel because she was not a guest and, as he explained it, the hotel had to protect its guests.

Before the GM approached her, Maynard recounts in her blog, she had spoken to just one guest who was in town for the rally -- "an older white guy wearing a T-shirt with the word 'eracism' emblazoned on the back." The two of them, she says, discussed the general mood in the nation, and afterward, she went back to her seat. That's when the manager appeared.

"This is in a hotel lobby, and hotel lobbies are for meeting people," Maynard said in an interview with The Root. "This is incomprehensible to me ... and I'm really not a threat to society."

In fact, Maynard oversees the oldest organization that focuses on helping news-media companies pursue diversity in staffing, content and business operations. Her father, journalism pioneer Robert C. Maynard, and his wife, Nancy Hicks Maynard, co-founded the institute in 1977. From 1983 to 1994, the power couple published the Pulitzer Prize-winning Oakland Tribune, the only general-market newspaper ever owned by African Americans. Some threat.

Maynard has reached out to the Hampton Inn, but so far she has received no response. Calls made by The Root to the hotel for comment were not returned. However, on Tuesday afternoon, someone at Hampton sent this note to Maynard through the comments section of the Huffington Post, where she has cross-posted her blog: "Thank you for bringing this to our attention, the hotel ownership will be reaching out to you offline directly."

Here, Maynard talks with The Root about how she is coming to terms with what happened, why she has not asked that the general manager be fired and what she would like to see occur in the resolution of this issue.

The Root: After all you have gone through, I noticed that you have not asked that the general manager be fired. Why not?

Dori Maynard: Because my initial reaction is that I spend a good portion of my life going around the country telling people that we need to spend time engaging in difficult conversations around charged issues, and I thought it was my obligation to try and follow through with that and have a conversation with him. Having said that, almost a week and a half ago, I faxed (and sent via FedEx) a letter asking to have a conversation, and I have received no response whatsoever. My office has verified that the FedEx was not only delivered but was signed for.

DM: I do want an explanation, and not only do I want an explanation, but I want to see the original incident report (written up by the general manager). I don't think that he should be in the position to do that to somebody else. I have no idea what happened, and I really would like to know what he thought he saw.

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Sept. 19 2014 8:34 AM