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Key West's blatant problem

By Geneia Holman
On April 19, 2016

Every year students travel to some of Florida’s most beautiful and talked about beaches for their spring break destination: Panama City Beach, Miami Beach and Key West.

A properly planned trip made for laughter and fun, quickly made a turn for the worst after arriving at the Hyatt Windward Pointe in Key West. Blatant acts of racism in the culture of Key West was apparent.

Five of my friends and I were greeted by an all-white, front desk staff. Soon after signing paperwork we were told that the hotel would place $100 hold on everyone’s credit card for “incidentals.”

“If you don’t like our policies, you can leave. If you don’t want to comply, you don’t have to stay here,” the manager stated without compassion.  

Shortly after being charged extra fees, we were harassed by a hotel security guard, poolside, for not having the designated pool towels.

“May I have your name and hotel room number? Our guest are concerned because you all don’t have pool towels. I just want to make sure you belong here,” said the security guard.

This was an unobtrusive way of making sure we were guests at the hotel.

Evident that we were the only blacks residing at the Hyatt, besides the housekeepers, our only thoughts were that we were being harassed and charged extra fees, because we were black.

What happened to my friends and I was not the first incident where the Hyatt Corporation lacked outstanding customer service tactics toward minorities.

In the case of Franceschi v. Hyatt Corp., Astrid Castro Franceschi and Annette Nogueras sought out damages and injunctive relief for the alleged refusal by Hyatt Cerromar Hotel to admit Franceschi’s son, Miguel A. Nogueras, and daughter-in-law, Barbara F. Blanco, onto its premises because they were of Latin descent.

This is unacceptable.

As reported by the 2010 Census Bureau, 89.5 percent of Panama City Beach is populated by whites, 87.4 percent of whites populate Miami Beach, and 83.8 percent occupy Key West.

Whites may feel uncomfortable when large masses of blacks migrate to their city during the spring break holiday.

Racism is often times hidden in policies. My friends and I were victims of subtle, everyday racism in Key West. We were harassed because of the color of our skin.

No matter their race, all customers should be treated the same. Without students flocking to these beaches during spring break and bringing in revenue to companies, these cities lose out on money.

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