Bob Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, recently said that an employee at a luxurious Florida hotel discriminated against him. The billionaire explained that he was racially profiled because he refused to take off his prescription sunglasses.
Johnson’s story is one of the latest high-profile accounts of “Living while Black.”
The billionaire was denied check-in at Eau Palm Beach in Manalapan, Florida after a fishing trip on Aug. 24, according to ABC affiliate WPBF. The incident started when a hotel employee told Johnson, who was supposed to stay two nights at the hotel, to take off his sunglasses.
“She said, ‘Well, I can’t check you in if you don’t take off your glasses,’” asserts Johnson, who had shown his state driver’s license, American Express credit card and passport to the employee. “I said, ‘Well, I’m not taking off my glasses.’”
The incident ended with the police being called. No compromise was reached between the two parties, Johnson said. He left the hotel without any resolution and felt “humiliated.”
The clerk was adhering to standard policy, a spokesman for Eau Palm Beach said.
“It is standard operating procedure in the industry to ask to make sure that the person who is presenting themselves to check-in and they present identification that it does match and if they’re wearing dark glasses with a ball cap low over their face, you want to make sure that it is the same person, much like what would happen at TSA rules going through the airport,” spokesman Nick Gold said.
“I think it’s a silly rule and I think it has overtones of racial profiling,” said Johnson, who became the first Black billionaire when he sold BET in 2001 and owns several hotels, adding that he would never return to the hotel.