Despite all that has happened this year, from Amy Cooper calling the cops on a Black man who asked her to leash her dog, to the many protests against racial injustice, things haven’t changed all that much in terms of everyday racism in America.
Jazz musician Keyon Harrold and his 14-year-old son unfortunately had to experience that truth this holiday weekend, during their stay at the Arlo Hotel in Soho, New York.
Harrold, a trumpeteer who has played with artists like Common and recorded on the Grammy-award winning soundtrack for the Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead, took to social media to share an incident of racial profiling against his son by a yet-to-be identified white woman who we will call Karen for the purposes of this article.
According to Harrold, he and his son were heading to get breakfast at the hotel on Saturday when they were accosted in the lobby by Karen, who accused his son of stealing her phone.
A video he posted of the incident shows the woman hysterically demanding that the hotel manager take his son’s iPhone while declaring, “It’s mine.”
Despite the boy responding that its his phone—and though Harrold says the woman in question was not a guest of the hotel at the time—the white manager is seen directing the Black teen to hand his phone over for his inspection.
But Harrold was not about to let his son be victimized by further racial profiling. He straight-up tells the manager “No,” stopping the Karen rescue operation in its tracks.
But of course, in typical fashion, the unidentified woman continues to pursue the two Black people she could find with baseless accusations of criminality, screaming, “Show me the proof!” that the boys phone isn’t hers.
The video cuts off with her running after them and her voice getting progressively louder and more hysterical. In the caption, Harrold explained that she scratched him and tackled his son, adding that this is trauma his son now has to carry.
What’s worse—a few minutes after she went after them, the woman’s phone was returned by an Uber driver.
Following that disturbing debacle, Harrold said the woman made no apologies to him or his son—nor did the manager, who he called out for empowering her outrageous behavior even though they were guests at the hotel and she wasn’t.
In a statement sent to The Root on Sunday, a spokesperson for Arlo Hotels described the incident as “inexcusable” and said that the manager on duty “promptly called the police regarding the woman’s conduct.”
That’s not what was shown on the video, but okay.
“We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo hotel,” the statement went on to say. “More could have been done to de-escalate the dispute. No Arlo guest—or any person—should be subject to this kind of behavior.”
The spokesperson added that they have reached out directly to Mr. Harrold and his son to apologize for the event and offer any help they may need. Though this is exactly what the hotel should do—its still upsetting that this teenager had to experience being treated like a suspect solely on the accusation of a random white woman, and on the day after Christmas. It also rankles that it took several hours of the video of the event spreading on the internet for the hotel to openly condemn the racist violence that was allowed to happen on their property against their paying guests.
The Root has also reached out to Harrold for his comment on the matter—and to confirm that the hotel has contacted he and his son with an apology.