Last month, Dr. Khalid el-Hakim, founder, CEO, curator, and lecturer of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum, was invited to Oklahoma State University (OSU) Stillwater and was lodged by the University at the Atherton Hotel OSU where he says that he attempted to charge his meal to his room but was denied. In the words of Dr. Khalid, “The insolent rhetoric used by the restaurant manager and the desk clerk was of blatant disrespect with direct undertones of racial stereotypes.”
The hotel management responded to his complaint with a phone call to him and a letter of apology that he says was delivered promptly. However, he says that the letter did not address the core issue of his complaint, race.
The hotel had placed a $100 hold on Dr. Khalid’s credit card and explained that the hold was for “incidental fees.” He saw this as them denying him the same rights any guest would normally have at the hotel. They claimed the hold was to protect the hotel from guests who “tear up rooms” or the supposed issue they have with people dining and dashing. However, in Dr. Khalid’s opinion, both excuses were grounded in their implicit bias, seeing him as a potential criminal before seeing him as a respectable guest.
The letter apologized for the staff’s “inappropriately advising.” Dr. Khalid, stated, “The dinner charge to the room should have occurred with ease and been completely seamless.” However, a bill for the dinner was shoved under his door at 4am the next morning.
He responded to the hotel’s letter with a letter of his own expressing his disappointment with them not addressing the issue of race. In his letter, he also asked for an updated letter of apology acknowledging his concern, and their commitment to providing on-going implicit bias training for their staff. To date, there has been no response.
In a call to Josh Bernard, the hotel manager, this writer asked for a statement (via voice mail) regarding this matter. The call was returned by Monica Roberts, Director of Media Relations who said the situation was not based on race and that “it was a technical glitch.” She also said that “a flag came up because of the type of room it was, one being paid for by the state’s dollars.” She added that the workers were students. She also stated in her response that the University had already begun implicit bias training for their staff prior to Dr. Khalid’s visit.