This week, a viral video circulated of a white male Holiday Inn Express employee, having a violent meltdown after a Black hotel guest inquired about issues with his reservations. In the video, the Black customer asked the unnamed employee why did he hit his computer, who seemingly did it in an act of frustration. The two men continued the conversation for a few more seconds, until the white employee started punching himself in the face, and then violently smashing his head into the reservation desk computer screen.
With a scene like this happening to a customer at a major hotel chain, and given the history of bad experiences Black people have had at Holiday Inn hotels in the past, this could set the stage for a major lawsuit, and more bad publicity for the hotel brand. Just last year, Holiday Inn received a ton of bad publicity after a Holiday Inn hotel manager in Ohio kicked a Black family out of a swimming pool because a white guest complained he was uncomfortable being around them. There are also many TripAdvisor and yelp reviews of Black customers complaining about the racism they experience at Holiday Inn hotels around the country.
On an interesting, anecdotal yet relevant side note, Holiday Inn actually got it’s name from a 1940’s movie called Holiday Inn which was an extremely racist, anti-Black film. The major white stars of this film like Bing Crosby and others, performed in blackface throughout the movie. So it could be argued that the Holiday Inn brand has had anti-Black racism issues since it’s beginnings.
After the recent video involving the violent meltdown a Holiday Inn employee, something very strange happened with the way the story was reported. There seemed to be a very organized and strategic effort to put all the blame of what happened on the Black customer, and Black people who posted the video online. This has lead many to question: was this a coincidence, or was this orchestrated by some central source?
Did the higher-ups at Holiday Inn hire some crisis managers from a think tank, or public relations firm, to launch a big deflection campaign? Almost every mainstream mention of the article has conveniently spun this story into a narrative of an innocent mentally ill white man, who online outlets keep repeatedly referring to as a “kid”, who was “bullied and harassed” by a Black customer, until the “kid” had a breakdown. Also, most articles about the incident mentions journalist Tariq Nasheed, who also posted the video, and literally blames him for “race baiting” because he posted the video. Black American rapper Freddie Gibbs was also attacked by media outlets and paid troll farms, because he posted the video as well.
The LGBT NATION website seemed to be in on the alleged con game, as they added an illogical anti-gay angle to the story, as a way to seemingly deflect from the facts. In fact, many so-called reputable media outlets falsely claimed that the Black customer used a homophobic slur, right before he started filming. This has been reported as fact, even thought there is not one shed of evidence to prove that happened. This “source” of this “homophobic slur” narrative came from a random REDDITT post from an anonymous user claiming to be the hotel employee in question. This has never been confirmed, and neither has the “slur.”
There was also a gofundme page started for the hotel employee, started by an infamous suspected white supremacist named Jeremy Hambly, who allegedly has associations with certain think tanks that promote propaganda campaigns.
Did some crisis management firm with media connections and access to online troll farms, create a campaign to make a huge amount of manufactured noise about “Black people bullying a mentally vulnerable white person,” as a way to deflect from the outlandish actions of Holiday Inn in order to help them slither out of a potential lawsuit? That is something that cannot be said for certain. But after the media wave about the incident, Holiday Inn put out a statement where they played right along with the “hotel-employee-is-the-real-victim” spin:
“We were shocked and saddened to see the video and the clearly unacceptable treatment of a longtime hotel colleague,” Jacob Hawkins, a spokesperson for IHG Hotels & Resorts told Newsweek.
Hawkins noted that the Holiday Inn where the altercation took place is independently owned and operated, as is the case with the bulk of hotels that operate under the IHG umbrella. Still, he said every employee representing IHG Hotels & resorts “deserves to be treated with respect and dignity,” which is the same commitment employees make to their guests.
So the real question remains: are Black customers safe going to Holiday Inn hotels?