Jermaine Massey visited Portland, OR to attend a Travis Scott concert. On returning to his hotel, the Portland DoubleTree, he noticed his mother had called. He was concerned as it was very late on the East Coast where she lived. So he called her from the hotel lobby. 

During the call, he was approached by a security guard and asked if he was a guest at the hotel. Massey replied he was. The guard asked him his room number. Massey said he was on a phone call and couldn’t remember off the top of his head. At which point the guard (now immortally dubbed ‘Hotel Earl’) requested a manager call the police.

Jermaine Massey and “Hotel Earl”

The police came. And despite the fact he had a room key, Massey was required to retrieve his possessions and check-out. He was then escorted off the premises. Outside the police suggested he pursue the matter with the company to avoid being charged with trespass. Massey declined an offer to be taken to another hotel. He took a Lyft to the airport Sheraton, where he spent the night without incident.

Massey posted a series of videos outlining the event to Instagram, which went viral. Both DoubleTree and the hotel’s manager swore it was just a misunderstanding and discrimination wasn’t the company’s policy.

It’s all well and good that ‘officially’ this Hilton brand doesn’t discriminate. But that is cold comfort to a customer who suffered discrimination. It’s not enough that the employee handbook says one thing if the employees do another.

No doubt night security at a mid-level hotel doesn’t pay enough to attract top-notch people. But managers should be trained to a different standard. I see no evidence that this manager tried to figure out what was what. But instead just dropped a dime on a minority customer.

The story goes on to mention Massey’s clothes: “ a black hooded sweatshirt with bright lettering, jeans, and sneakers”. I bring this up because some defending the hotel have pushed the ‘thug-wear’ defense. Which takes the form of “if a black man has on ‘thug type’ clothing he must be guilty of something”.

The police also reported that Massey was “very angry and loud”. As well, the story notes that the hotel guard had told him to “calm down”.

Let’s assume that Massey was angry and loud. Can you blame him? He’s making a phone call from a remote part of the lobby, in a hotel where he has rented a room, minding his own business and suddenly he’s getting the third-degree from an employee.

The subtext is obvious. An ‘angry’ black man, dressed in ‘dubious’ clothing, must be trouble. Why? I’m sure hotels have to deal frequently with angry, drunk, middle-aged white men wearing suits. I cannot imagine a bunch of drunken salesmen on a junket is a quiet affair and yet those nights rarely end with the police summoned.

Hotel security has never bothered me for making a phone call. I wouldn’t even be harassed if I were wearing a hoodie, jeans, and sneakers.

In Massey’s case, there is no suggestion that any other guest complained about his behavior. He wasn’t part of a group. He wasn’t brandishing a weapon. If some paranoid racist thought he bore watching, then why didn’t he just watch him until his phone call was over and he went peaceably to his room? 

When I was a kid in the 1970s, there was this feeling – at least among whites – that although there was a long way to go in civil rights and race relations at least the country was on the right path. Perhaps there has been some improvement in the professional class, but story after story shows that the road is long and the pace glacial.

And now racism at the top has given license to racism everywhere — perhaps most cuttingly affecting people who are just concerned about their mothers. Or swimming, barbecuing, or selling water.

America will not be great until everyone can make phone calls from the same spot I can – and is treated by the police, other authorities and all the officious ‘rule-writers’ out there as this middle-aged white guy is.


Trump’s Army of Whiny White Men.

October 21, 2018

There is no area of American life where white men are not entirely in charge —  executive suites, politics, professional sports, religion, the media, and the judiciary. And yet to listen to Trump, you would believe that white men are inches from being lined up against the wall and shot. The Kavanaugh unpleasantness has illuminated this pathetic, […]

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Aaron Schlossberg Goes Viral Yelling at Spanish Speakers in NYC. Fear Isn’t Just in Flyover Country.

May 17, 2018

Aaron Schlossberg became an overnight internet star when a video of his unhinged rant at two women speaking Spanish went viral. This 42-year-old Manhattan lawyer was irate that people in America don’t always speak English. Mind you he chose to vent in an eatery on New York’s Madison Ave. I repeat – New York – […]

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Fox News EVP Says the Olympic Motto Is Now “Darker, Gayer, Different.”

February 9, 2018

(Note: I wrote this post in response to a Fox News opinion piece that was so shameful Fox News took it down. But if you want to read it you will find the text at the bottom of the post) John Moody, EVP and Executive Editor at Fox News, is upset that the US Winter Olympic team isn’t as white […]

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How Do Evangelicals Get from Jesus to Trump?

January 29, 2018

Why do evangelicals want bakers to be able to deny gay couples wedding cake? They say it is their ‘sincerely held religious belief’. And as justification, they point to biblical verses saying homosexuals are an abomination — or words to that effect. But the same book has laundry lists of other things that are abominations and deserve punishment […]

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Tony Perkins Gives Trump a “Mulligan” for Adultery with a Porn Star.

January 23, 2018

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, has reacted to the revelation that Donald Trump was shtupping a porn star a year after he married his third wife, and months after son Barron was born, with a yawn. He told Politico in a podcast: “We kind of gave him—‘All right, you get a mulligan. You get a […]

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Moore Thinks the Constitution Goes too Far. (Or, What’s Wrong with Slavery? People Were Happy.)

December 11, 2017

In 2011, Roy Moore told a radio show getting rid of constitutional amendments after the Tenth Amendment would ‘eliminate many problems’. As a lawyer and an ‘on-again, off-again’ judge, Moore knows exactly what those amendments say. So let us have a look at what he objected to. Amendments fall into two categories – ones that extend rights, […]

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Trump Adds Lazy Puerto Ricans to His Racist Hall of Stereotypes.

September 30, 2017

“Is Trump a racist?” is the wrong question. After all, he had to promise not to discriminate against minorities to settle a housing suit brought by the Feds in 1973. The right question is: “Has Trump proved he is not a racist?” The answer is no. And you can ask “the Blacks”, as Trump unempathetically groups […]

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The ‘Son of a Bitch’ is a Greater American than Kremlin Don.

September 23, 2017

America is greatest when she overcomes her wrongs.  As she did with emancipation. And with the recognition of worker rights, women’s rights, consumer rights, civil rights, gay rights. But the path to greatness has had switchbacks, and progress has been slow. Today unarmed black Americans are still shot dead by cops. American minorities are still disproportionately […]

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