I’ve gifted this article:
NYT 12/13/22 Article on Airbnb Discrimination Against Blacks: Black Travelers Say Home-Share Hosts Discriminate, and a New Airbnb Report Agrees
As a retired social studies teacher and an active member of this forum, I’m not surprised at all. There’s not that much Airbnb can do about it other than remove hosts about whom there are complaints. Based on how long I saw it took Airbnb to take action on hosts who typed their biases into their listings, I’m not optimistic.
I don’t have the benefit of the history that you possess. I was impressed by Airbnb in reading this article. They partnered with the ACLU and an organization called Colors of Change to collaborate on how to reduce discrimination.
I think their intent is true. But they can’t control what individuals do. A host is not like a hotel manager who can be fired. Things like removing last names and pictures infuriated hosts who are sure they don’t discriminate, but who want to “vet” guests. I hope Airbnb continues to work on this, but how to they stop the racist nut with a gun who shoots a black guest once he leaves the rental?
I am not surprised either, racism is rampant in the U.S. and seems to be getting worse not better.
Thanks for gifting the article. While I am quite sure there are racist hosts, this study seems to be based on anecdotal evidence and perception, rather than scientific method.
I’ve read far too many posts and reviews from guests claiming they were discriminated against because of their race, and hosts distraught that they were accused of racism, when the issue was that the guest threw a party, had unregistered guests, left the place a pigsty, were demanding or rude- the usual reasons why guests of any race either get asked to leave or earn themselves a bad review, to believe that someone was discriminated against simply because they say so.
I remember one host whose guest wrote a review claiming racism- what the guest didn’t know was that the white host was in fact married to a black man.
Another post by a black guest who said she thought the host declined her booking request because she was black- responders informed her that the host doesn’t get to see her photo until a booking is confirmed, and he couldn’t have assumed she was black because of her name, as it wasn’t identifiable as such (it was some very common, could be any race name like Susan).
This was a newbie guest who had had one booking but no reviews yet, no verified ID, had zero profile information aside from “Works at Macy’s”, and it was suggested to her that many hosts are wary of accepting any guest who has no reviews and hasn’t bothered to fill out a profile.
This guest had just gone straight to “racism” as the reason for being declined, without understanding all the reasons hosts might decline a booking or that the host never saw her photo.
Another experienced host in London with hundreds of reviews declined a booking from an Asian woman (this was back when we still could see the profile photos). He declined because there were all the red flags of someone who intends to throw a party, something he had dealt with before. The guest messaged him back saying “We so woke, we know you can’t decline us” and reported him to Airbnb for racism. When Airbnb contacted him threatening to delete his account, he had to argue with them and point out that he had hosted scores of Asian guests, all they had to do was look at his review history, and that this decline was based on party-intention red flags. Airbnb backed off when they looked at his acceptance history. Had he been a relatively new host with only a few bookings under his belt, he likely would have been suspended or banned from the platform.
A black host posted that she was being discriminated against because she got poor and rude service from CS. I responded pointing out that all hosts, regardless of race, nationality, sexual orientation, experience terrible service from CS, to please not make that about race, that all hosts needed to stand in solidarity in complaining about clueless and/or rude CS reps.
In that first story in the article, it sounds like the guest was taking advantage of the host saying she could invite rellies over and being really noisy. Kids running around loudly at 11pm? Being asked to observe quiet hours past 10? I suspect they were asked to leave because they weren’t just having a quiet dinner with the extra 5 dinner guests, which sounded like 2 adults and 3 more kids. Plenty of white guests get asked to leave because of disrespectful behavior of this nature, too.
How does that translate to racism?
The second story in the article, the older couple who booked to celebrate their anniversary and being turned away at the door sounds much more believable as a case of racism.
When I say the study doesn’t sound very scientific, this jumped out at me:
“Still, guests who are perceived to be white (Airbnb users aren’t asked to identify their race; Project Lighthouse uses data that determines the race someone might associate with a first name and a profile photo to measure possible discrimination) are able to get the rental they want 94.1 percent of the time. Asian and Latino renters have success rates just below that, while guests perceived to be Black get their choices 91.4 percent of the time.”
First of all, less than 3% difference between white and black guests “getting the rental they want” is a pretty small percentage, and it doesn’t seem like any other factors in having a booking declined were considered. How many in each study group had bothered to do a nice profile write up? How many were newbies with no reviews? How many had less than stellar reviews? How many had verified ID? What kind of message did they send with their booking request, if any? How many failed to answer the host’s questions, failed to fully read the listing description, indicated they were booking with children or a pet when the house rules did not allow that?
Without looking at all the common reasons why hosts decline bookings, the percentage of declines between whites and blacks is info in a vacuum.
As I said, I’m quite sure there are racist hosts- racists are found in every walk of life. And I’ve read host posts where it was obvious that the host was discriminatory, saying things like they should be able to decline guests who don’t align with their “American values”. And people who have experienced plenty of racism in their lives are going to be much more attuned to it than those who haven’t, so certainly their perception should not be dismissed, but also not just taken at face value.
Interesting and dismaying data that 2.5 million users refused to agree to the non-discrimination policy. So I don’t disagree with Airbnb’s efforts to combat discrimination at all, but this study seems rather flawed to me as something that definitively proves that there’s significant racist behavior from hosts in good standing.
I am doubtful this sort of behavior happens in home share situations. Who would book a shared space to throw a party? It does not make sense to me.
Where did you get the idea that was a home-share listing? The article said it was a 2 unit building and the host lived in the downstairs unit. That’s not a homeshare. And “party” doesn’t just mean inviting 30 people over, it can just be a party-type atmosphere with people being disrespectfully loud, perhaps drunk, loud music, kids running around out of control. Even if there are only 6 registered guests there, and no extras, they can still be partying.
Wow 2.5 million users refused to sign to Airbnb’s non discrimination policy - that’s huge. I wonder if Airbnb’s followed through and banned these hosts and guests from using the platform.
I agree it’s very clear from host comments including on this group that there are hosts that discriminate against disabled guests with service animals and guests from various ethnic and religious backgrounds.
The article said Airbnb had removed or denied access (I’m not sure what the difference between those is) to 2 and a half million since 2016 who wouldn’t sign the non-discrimination pledge.
It would be interesting to know the demographics of the refusers. Countries, areas of countries, age, race, etc.
I’m sure it happens with other ethnic groups as well. Racists hate all minorities : (
And some minorities hate other minorities. Different races have different prejudices. It’s an error to assume, for instance, that just because someone is in a demographic that experiences racism, that they are not racist themselves. There is reportedly, for instance, a lot of racism by blacks towards Asians.
Israel was created as a safe haven for Jews after WWII. Yet many Jewish Israelis are prejudiced against Arabs. And having lived there for 2 years in my late teens, I can tell you that many Israelis of Jewish European extraction were prejudiced against Jewish Israelis of North African and Ethiopian origin. Like sure, they can immigrate here, but you wouldn’t want your daughter to marry one.
Here in Mexico, where the vast majority of the population are mestizo- of indigenous Mexican and Spanish mix, and skin color ranges from white to almost black, how dark your skin is within that range is definitely a perception and prejudice that exists. All you have to do is watch Mexican TV and movies to see that the majority of “stars” are extremely light-skinned.
You’d think being discriminated against would lead people to be accepting of all, but that is not at all a valid assumption.
Black Travelers Say Home-Share Hosts Discriminate
I agree- just look at how Israel has behaved to the Palestinians after Europe created the Israel protectorate after the second world war. Or how the Jews who immigrated to South Africa post war supported The Apartheid against Asians and Blacks there.
Here in the UK there is conflict between West Indians and African communities and between Asian and Black communities.
Ah, I see. But neither of the incidents described in the article appear to be home-share listings.
Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!
In St Lucia, people of Indian (from India) descent are biased against people of African descent. And some US citizens of India-Indian descent that are fair-skinned “looked down” on our dark-skinned India-Indian employees. Discrimination is, unfortunately, alive in many places, not just the US.
I had a meticulously hand-painted set of glassware with tiny historic and iconic images of America, DC, Virginia and Maryland that I got as a gift. Perfect for my DC-area Airbnb, I thought. One day I was putting away the washed glasses and saw there was a tiny Robert E. Lee in all his glory on the VA glass.
“Hello, POC guest, welcome to my Airbnb, comes complete with microaggression to mess up your day!” I know I oohed and awed over the glasses when I got them. I’m sure I saw the head of the Confederate army there at the time, and it registered as normalized “American hero” history. Whew. Robert E. Lee is gone. I smudged the room and hung a photo of MLK.