As Airbnb Grows, So Do Claims of Discrimination

Some black travelers are decrying racist experiences with the home-sharing service, giving birth to the social media campaign #AirbnbWhileBlack.

Comments: 150

  1. Thanks for the conversation. I wonder how to international situation compares to the American home-sharing one.

  2. Where I run into difficulty with this, is that we are talking about people's homes, many times with the homeowners in it, renting out rooms. People should be able to choose who makes them comfortable, whether we agree of disagree with their underlying beliefs.

  3. Exactly! That is YOUR home and you can't get any more personal than that. Why subject your children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors etc to anyone you don't feel comfortable with.

  4. You raise a valid point, but I think an easy counterpoint is that people who want to practice personal freedoms that openly violate the federal law of not discriminating "on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin" should, perhaps, not be doing so on such a public forum as Airbnb.

    Maybe these folks should look to meet potential renters somewhere other than a very popular website that's designed around connecting strangers?

    Personal beliefs and freedoms have their place, this just isn't the right place to practice or enforce them in direct violation of federal law.

    (I'm speaking from the US but I'm pretty sure the UK has similar anti-discrimination laws at all levels of government.)

  5. Well if you are that intolerant, you probably shouldn't be renting out a room or home on AirBnB to complete strangers. This is a business and there are laws against discrimination. Why put yourself in a situation you are not comfortable in?

  6. The Free Market will handle this through extinction if they chose not to address it. I will be sure to use a service that does not allow such racism and discrimination.

  7. No, it won't, not any more than the free market eliminated Jim Crow. Which it did not.

  8. As a homeowner there are lots of people of all colors that I would be wary of renting my home to....mostly anyone I didn't know well or that at least a close family or friend could vouch for which is why I would never sign up for one of these services.

  9. I guess if you can somehow shame these homeowners to let every know who they are, that would be ideal no?

    I travel extensively and I've never used an Airbnb property and have no interest in doing so, same for uber!

    On another note - I've been commenting to my friends that it's begun to annoy me that while waiting on my commuter train 99% of the waiting commuters are looking down at their mobile device while they wait.

    What have we become? Why can't we be more interested in those around us. Be Here, Now!

  10. We'll be sure to stay off your lawn, lest you yell at us. ;-)

  11. i can't be there. now. maybe in 15 minutes?

  12. Comments made by guests after their experiences are very powerful and unquestionably influence potential guests. If someone reads that a guest was poorly treated because of the color of their skin, their religion or sexual orientation, a lot of people won't be keen to book with that host. They will take their business elsewhere.

  13. Most of the discrimination happens pre-booking, so those impacted have no means to leave a review and may not even know they were discriminated against.

  14. Take their business elsewhere?
    Like a licensed, legal hotel, motel, or inn.

  15. I recently had a similar experience when traveling with someone who must travel with a service dog. When we made requests that included the information about the dog, all of the previously available options were suddenly no longer available. We contacted AirBNB and they advised us to limit our searches to those offerings that state that they allow pets. I had to explain that this is not a pet. We had this experience both with AirBNB and VRBO. The first request we made without mentioning the dog was accepted. We were searching outside of the US and I do not know if the same would have happened with US offers. However we did check that the country in question has anti-discrimination laws in place.

  16. As a long-time Airbnb host with a medically-documented, severe allergy to dogs I can't even begin to explain how furious I would be if you just showed up with a dog. You want sensitivity to your needs while, at the same time, you show none to hosts or others who have conflicting needs.

    Dishonesty is rarely the right move and if you did that to me I would push Airbnb to ban you.

  17. Almost all "service dogs",are a fraud. An actual service dog is certified and registered. The fake "service animals" began with Paris Hilton and other "celebrities" carrying small animals around as fashion accessories. Now, just about every person (mostly young women) claim their pet "relieves stress" and they can not be seperated from them.

  18. Kcyole, you have to understand this from a homeowner's situation (full disclosure, we are pet owners)
    First there is the issue of allergies. If the service dog is in the apartment, and sometime after someone moves in and has allergic reaction, you have a problem. The other is that to get onto the business list w/ Airbnb, you have to certify that there are no pets (and were no pets allowed) in the dwelling.

  19. Hope people realize that Airbnb is itself not racist. It is just a channel through which regular Americans' showcase their latent racist tendencies.

    Decrying Airbnb will hardly solve anything.

  20. Actually, AirBNB has structured a channel that enables racial discrimination and other bigotry. Flying the false flag of online community, AirBNB demands that users identify themselves with actual photos and in some cases live-streamed, staff observed videos for verification. It also expects users to write a biographical blurb of some sort. Combined, these provide a profile which can be used for the discriminatory purposes of the individuals you admit as the direct perpetrators.

    No hotel does this kind of vetting. Competing businesses like VRBO do not demand such personal profiling data. For other companies facilitating lodging, one's credit and contractual agreement are sufficient. So it should be with AirBNB and any other provider or facilitator of public accommodation.

  21. Airbnb can only do so much, it's the individuals that's the problem.
    I bet Airbnb will change its rules to be all inclusive and yet there will be some fool who won't honor it with the guest shows up.

  22. I recommend AirBnB implement a policy where all hosts agree to cover allfinancial costs incurred by AirBnB when a black (or other) traveler is discriminated against. In addition, the hosts should expect to be permanently banned from the site. That would hopefully discourage racist behavior, or persuade racist hosts to withdraw from the service.

    As for guests who find themselves being confronted as criminals and trespassers, that's a harder issue. AirBnB can't influence the neighbors, especially when so many hosts are renting surreptitiously. I suggest hosts openly rent their homes and inform neighbors / police to prevent guests (especially nonwhite) being mistakenly arrested or shot by an overzealous neighbor (see George Zimmerman/Joe Horn).

  23. it's frequently difficult to prove that any one host discriminated, and the systemic nature of it means that only pinning it on individual hosts is not an effective means of dealing with the problem. the single biggest change Airbnb could make is to do away with photos of individuals. Job applicants in the US don't attach photos mostly to help prevent race discrimination. Airbnb is global, including in areas where photos on job applications are common, but it should be more willing to be a leader in this regard.

    I've been a host for 6 1/2 years and as someone with a background in social science knew this would be an issue from the very beginning. It has been surprising that it's taken this long to become a publicised issue.

  24. I find this AirBnB story fascinating because it is a true and accurate measure of where we ACTUALLY are in terms of racial views in our society. Taking polls where respondents can easily give the 'politically correct' answer are meaningless.

    AirBnB forces people to ask themselves a simple yet profound question... who am I comfortable sharing my most prized and personal possession with? I think if we're all honest with ourselves, we could learn quite a bit about ourselves from this question.

    It allows us to see just how much we judge strangers based on race, age, religion, etc.

  25. How's this for a twist on this racism story? I have a home listed on Airbnb in a neighborhood that is predominantly Hispanic and African American. I've had people arrive at the house and then refuse to check in because they didn't feel comfortable being in a neighborhood with people of color. Not long ago, I had one person who declined to check in because he was concerned that his "luxury car" would be damaged and was afraid of the local "gangbangers" i.e., my African American neighbors who wouldn't know where to find a gang if you paid them.

    He wasn't the only, just the most recent. He attempted to get his money back but Airbnb backed me up all the way. They were sympathetic and the representative let me know that his racist attitude was not welcome. I think Airbnb does a fine job overall. Not sure what training or education Airbnb can do to overcome a lifetime of cultural inculcation of racist attitudes and beliefs among both guests and hosts.

  26. I can see a trip to SD in my future...

  27. I find it a little bizarre that people are expecting legal behavior from an enterprise which is founded on illegal behavior. This is like complaining that your crack dealer over-charged you for your recent hit.

    It isn't legal to run a hotel without a license ( and many other things, like insurance and appropriate zoning and so forth ). The entire Airbnb enterprise consists of people flouting the law for profit, and you are surprised to find that many of them are not honest and wholesome?

    You can argue that it should be legal to do whatever you want where ever you want, and that we should burn most or all of the laws on our books. And maybe you're right. But until we do, expecting honor among thieves will leave you disappointed.

  28. That is all good and fair: Except. One of the nicest thing about Airbnb guests is that they live somewhere else, in other words, they are going to leave at some point.
    I had a tenant who didn't pay rent for 10 months, and there was NOTHING I could do. She even filed a discrimination suit, trashed the place and the declared bankruptcy. $25K later I received a letter from authorities that under no circumstances I was to contact her about the debt that a previous judge had granted me. Where is Zoning, and town councils and all that stuff when you need them?

  29. You don't know what you're talking about. It's not illegal to rent out your home. And renting out your home is not running a hotel.
    Local law dictates the requirements in this type of situation.

  30. The law is not the determining factor in ethics.

    "Good men must not obey the laws too well." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  31. My landlords were actively renting their house out to families of different ethnicities and races in a white neighborhood through Airbnb. I live on the property and I welcomed the adventure. There was never an all night party, just happy families on vacation or going to a wedding. Every one of them grateful for the beautiful home in this beautiful location. Despite this the neighbors were so angered that it ended up at a city council meeting with people claiming they felt 'unsafe'. I never felt unsafe and I am a single older woman living on the property. This is a small town in the Santa Ynez Valley, a big tourist destination and these neighbors are all conservative, fairly Republican looking for the US of yesteryear and frankly, racist.

  32. Because you feel safe, others are wrong because they don't?

  33. so they are racist because they didn't agree to have the house next door turned into a motel?

  34. She didn't write that, you inferred it from her statement. I interpreted what she wrote as more along the lines of "I have every reason to fear, being very vulnerable, and yet I don't."

  35. Thank you Rafat for your faith in humanizing the tech mindset. Will tech arrive at a solution for neighbors, instructing them to call police only for riot and disturbance, but never because of race, creed, color, national origin, or gender? I doubt neither the wisdom of tech nor neighbors.

  36. I'm black and when I travel with white and Asian friends they always book for us. And they know why.

  37. I've hosted for airbnb for two years now in Brooklyn. Individuals always vary, and though certain stereotypes may exist in the imagination, accurately predicting their embodiment in real people via a few email exchanges is difficult. Older ppl can be more challenging, as can the very young. Perhaps older white Americans are especially likely to be challenging. Europeans, their current status as the bete-noir of history notwithstanding, are the most gracious and appreciative, as are gay men and women. Professionals who belong to a minority group within their country of origin are also most likely to be among the most civilized and self aware. Overall, the unsurprising conclusion has been that nice sounding people are often nice, people on vacation are happier, and people on vacation in a foreign land are likely to be appreciative and discreet.

  38. The only generalization I can make about our guests are these:
    Women tend to leave long hair in the bathroom, and men just don't have the aim they believe they have when it comes to the toilet. Well, that's what we signed up for, so I can't complain.
    I can't make out any other trend amongst the many guests that we had.

  39. I smell a smear campaign.

    It's no secret that Airbnb now has lots of enemies. The hotel industry naturally wants to bury Airbnb, because Airbnb has created real competition and forced the industry as a whole to rethink what it is that customers want. Most condo and co-op boards and neighborhood associations are against Airbnb due to fears of reckless partiers, strangers all over the place, theft, vandalism, etc. And while some of this is valid, there's also been lots of fear-mongering.

    The way I see it, Airbnb needs to stop the notion of 'absentee-hosting', and they also need to stop 'career' hosts. Hosts who rent out their one and only home to guests, to be SHARED between them and their guests, are usually good hosts who simply want to share of themselves and meet people from all over the world. However, Airbnb should also inspect each of these homes and interview the hosts, and NOT just automatically accept anyone who wants to be a host. Thus far there's no selection process done by Airbnb.

    As for cries of discrimination, we all know it's harder in life for non-whites. That's just how it is. No, it's not fair, but it's also nothing new. So the fact that Airbnb specifically, is getting all this sudden press about discrimination, smells rotten to me, and that it's all part of a campaign that's cleverly using the power of social media to try and take down Airbnb.

  40. If Airbnb were to drop "absentee" hosting, they would lose over 80% of their revenue. Renting just a room is a very small part of their model. Essentially, Airbnb is just like VRBO and other vacation rental sites with better marketing and a model of taking 10% on every deal rather than a few hundred a year as a listing fee.

  41. My husband & I have been staying in VRBO properties since at least 2010 but we didn't have our first AirBnB experience until last year. Unlike VRBO, which offers mostly houses & condos where the owner is not present, AirBnB offers mostly rooms or small units on the owner's property, with the owner often there.

    To protect the owner's safety, AirBnB relies more heavily on user reviews and whether or not the traveller has ever stayed with another host. As a result, my husband & I were turned down for several properties - and we are white. They could see our white faces, read about us and still they turned us down, because we had no user reviews to back us up.

    I would be curious if the people mentioned in this article were also first-time AirBnB users. It sounds like some of these incidents are racist acts on the part of certain individuals but I'm reluctant to believe the entire system is corrupt. I also believe hosts have the right to feel safe in their own home.

  42. I have had very disappointing experiences with Airbnb of late. I searched for Airbnb properties in Seattle for a weekend getaway. I contacted the first one, which was listed as being available, and secured the reservation with a payment. Later in the day, I was told that property was no longer available. That's odd, I thought but oh well. I moved on to the second property, which also showed availability, and secured the reservation. This time I never received a confirmation from the Airbnb owner. Why? I have moved on from Airbnb and use other services like VRBO or

  43. On the first reservation, the Airbnb host probably got a better offer for a longer term rental right after yours came in.

    On the second: the host may not have been home and just didn't answer.

  44. Do gays have to rent to Christains or Muslims who are openly anti gay?

    No matter how prejudiced someone is against some other group, the government should not have authority to force unwanted associations in private housing rentals, or any other non governmental business or association.

    Those irrational prejudices will contine to wither over time without government coercion.

  45. We tried that, and it did not work out so well. Government intervention was and is needed to prevent segregation. Can you name a time when an irrational prejudice in a region disappeared before law or armed conflict intervened? I'm struggling to think of an example.

  46. In the US in the last century these social prejudices were overcome without legal coercion:
    Premarital sex.
    Woman smoking in public.
    Woman driving cars.
    Working on Sunday.
    Eating sushi - Americans at first were revolted at the idea.

  47. None of those has anything to do with illegal discrimination in housing, Jay. I know Eric was more general in his language, but you were specifically advocating rolling back housing laws and worse, any "non-governmental business." That has definitely been tried before and would have never been rectified without force of law.

  48. This is one of those wrongs that you just aren't going to be able to legislate or adjudicate out of existence. Are authorities going to bring federal housing discrimination charges against a person who rents their house out a few weekends a year?

    And what's AirBnB going to do about it other than add some more boilerplate to their Terms of Service no one reads and engage in some knee-jerk damage control PR response? Suing AirBnB is like suing Craigslist (or like suing the NYT for racist statements made in the comments section).

    While we are at it, how about we sue all the roommate-wanted types out there who are looking for roommate matches based on *gasp* age, gender, race, class and national origin?

    The world ain't perfect people and you aren't going to litigate it into compliance. Nor, arguably, should anti-discrimination laws even purport to apply when the discrimination at hand is as intimate as inviting someone into your house as a guest.

  49. If you run a business serving the public, you can't discriminate. If you put your house up as a de-facto hotel, it is a business--and you can't discriminate. That is according to civil rights laws that _did_ help legislate this kind of wrong nearly out of existence.

  50. The behavior is reprehensible. But you probably won't get very far telling people who to let into their homes. I routinely redline Republicans and Evangelicals and have no intention of stopping.

  51. So you red line people who, statistically speaking, would take good care of your property and would probably leave you a nice bottle of wine in the fridge.. I'd have to say you're kind of an idiot.

  52. People should be allowed to rent to whomever they choose. These are private residences, not publuc facilities.

  53. really? i red line individuals who red line....

  54. This incident reminds me of the case of a famous African American Harvard U professor who was challenged by an officer in his own home (!) following a neighbor's complaint. It was thoughtless of Airbnb not to think of these very real societal issues when setting up their sharing business model. As a South Asian who has clocked millions of travel miles since the 1970s I an relate to the blatant and crude profiling that has taken place with various travel related government enforcement agencies post 9/11. There has to be a better way in a society such as ours where business and leisure mobility are highly prized.

  55. Another myth that has made its way into the American consciousness.

  56. A society such as ours? You said you were south asian.

  57. You mean the famous African American Harvard U professor who locked himself out of his house and was trying to break in the front door and when a neighbor saw this, not recognizing his 'famousness', they called the police, just as they would have done if they saw anyone of any race trying to break into a house? And would hope their neighbors would do the same?

    And then rather than simply explain the situation, the professor decided this was racist and alerted the media, thereby getting himself more attention and feeding into the myth that everything, absolutely everything unfortunate or unlucky or even deserved, that any black person experiences in life is due to racism?

    One thing that did come out of this is that if his home is ever actually robbed, the neighbors will simply put down their blinds and go have a cup of tea.

  58. What the people who insist on claiming that "AirBnb isn't racist, hosts are" don't realize or want to acknowledge is that AirBnB still makes money off the transactions generated by racist hosts. So they are not only implicitly condoning racism but they profit from it as well. Not only that, but they provide a platform for racist hosts to discriminate without incurring any financial costs or hurdles to making money. So they profit, too.

    If you read the news articles about Noirbnb and Innclusive, they've hit on a solution to the problem of hosts lying to certain users about the availability of certain dates. If a host tells a user that a particular date range is unavailable, they cannot turn around and tell another user that those dates are suddenly open. Those dates just get taken off the calendar. It makes you wonder why AirBnB doesn't adopt a similar solution until they can take other steps to address the problem.

  59. Actually they do. We had to cancel a reservation for a guest because the place was rented out through a different channel. Because of time constraint, Airbnb "closed" the offering for the time the user had requested. Fair enough ...

  60. Is it the responsibility of businesses to solve America's ingrained and institutional racism?

  61. Airbnb isn't condoning anything. It's a booking service not the morality police.

  62. I fully agree with some other readers that this is actually not an Airbnb issue, but a latent racism issue amongst many of our fellow Americans (and other nationalities have racism, too).
    The sad thing is that you are limiting your Airbnb experience as a host. We had a wide variety of people from all over the world stay in our house, and that is what makes this whole thing so much fun.

  63. Gee, how do hotels handle this? Oh, that's right, they have trained employees, a desk manager, and all that overhead. Not just a bunch of tech guys running a booking service for profit. What a concept. Maybe the higher room fees are a kind of insurance when you look at it that way.

  64. And to what extent is this a problem with uber, lyft, etc.? Moreover, what are the protections for people with disabilities using these services? Taxis are regulated locally and by state. The users of the world have penetrated the market but who are they leaving behind as underserved passengers?

  65. Talk to black taxi users. Every single one of them will have a story about cabbies turning a blind eye to their outstretched hands.

  66. I am curious...

    Are these incidents of racism and prejudice rare or more common?Are they world wide or confined to specific Countries or States within a country?

    I realize that market size would also cause a skew , just as racism and prejudice is not confined to just white/black axioms.

    Does anybody have any idea?

  67. I definitely think the way to go is for minorities to start their own businesses . I know it is not right to discriminate but this is America . If you own it you should be able to dictate who rents it . That is my opinion .

  68. The government needs to impose big fines on airbnb for this racism in bookings. I'm tired of this.

  69. And how exactly is Airbnb responsible for the users' racism?

  70. "The difference persisted, according to the report, whether the host was black, white, male or female, or whether the accommodations were shared or not."

    I was raised to be non-racist, so my upbringing was in perpetual war with the white society around me, with its constant drumbeat of bigotry. Like most if not all whites, some degree racism has infiltrated my character, I'm sorry to admit, and I try to recognize and deal with. At least I'm aware of it.

    Through all those decades, I figured that the civil rights movement (with my minor participation) would enlighten people. When that didn't work well enough, I figured, "Well, at least the old racists will die out and young people won't grow up in a segregated society."

    Now I'm not so sure. When it's so ingrained in society that even black Airbnb hosts discriminate against black guests, racism becomes just another of those vile human learned attitudes that I'm sad to say will long outlive me.

  71. Ingrained in society? Sorry to inform you, but it's simply ingrained. It's hard wired (in everyone, not just whites), and we will never be rid of it. The best we can do is try and minimize it.

  72. The anecdote that opens the story is rather disengenuous. Not that it wouldn't be unsettling, but the neighbors calling the police based on their own racism shouldn't be dumped in the lap of airbnb or the owners.

  73. No, indeed, it most certainly is the responsibility of AirBNB. They are a business. They make a profit. They have responsibility to offer a sound product. They allow individuals to use them as a reference. The AirBNB people need to do a better job at screening.

    The same faulty reasoning: individual deadbeat mortgage borrowers, instead of lax lending policies, led to the destruction of our economy in 2008.

  74. How could Airbnb have prevented that specific incident?

  75. True, but you'd think the host would have had the sense to alert the neighbors that there would be strangers at his or her house.

  76. I went 0 for 3 in my attempts to book a place to stay in Vancouver, BC, through AirBnB. I filled out a complete profile, including a photo, and made polite requests to the property owners, and was consistently turned down, with the owners replying that their property was "unavailable" for the requested dates, even though the listing showed availability when I made the request.

    To me, this process reminded me of high school dating, where I received enough rejections to last a lifetime. So I have no desire to collect more AirBnB rejections (or to be "scored" by ride-hailing drivers). I know that there are now AirBnB listings that don't require this process, but I will stick with traditional hotels and motels where you can just make a reservation, and where you have some hope of recourse if things go wrong.

    Maybe my experience means that we also need #AirBnBwhileLookingOld.

  77. That sounds more like they neglected to update their calendars, which I have found is pretty common. Many owners don't update them at all and just respond individually to requests.

  78. Jeebus now I have to feel doubly guilty about not having my calendar perfectly in sync with my life, if the requestor is a minority. Triply so if they are black.

  79. i feel guilty for simply breathing....

  80. "A January study ... found that Airbnb users with distinctly African-American names were ... less likely to be accepted as guests than those with distinctly white names."

    And why might this be? Could it be that distinctly African-American names are suspected of belonging to African Americans from the ghetto whom you might not want staying in your house? It is difficult to eliminate stereotypes. Blonde cheerleaders are thought to be ditzy because, well, blonde cheerleaders often are ditzy. If you come across someone named Shaniqua, chances are high that she's from the 'hood. This reminds me of the noble effort against profiling; it's telling people not to presume what they otherwise would.

    This is why commenters like Josh Hill are opposed to putting Section 8 housing in middle-class neighborhoods. If Sheneneh and Demarcus move in, Alfred and Jane will promptly move out. (God, this comment is awfully racist, isn't it? But it's quite true nonetheless.) We have a long history of racism in this country. Prejudices die slowly, and until we give people reasons to believe that our stereotypes are no longer valid, they'll continue acting as if they are.

    Sheneneh and Demarcus were created by, in some ways are a response to, racism and oppression, disenfranchisement and poverty. Urban ghettos are a stain on America. We created them and have failed to deal with them. But we cannot expect suburban whites to be unconcernedly acceptant of people who sound as if they might hail therefrom.

  81. @David L, Jr.
    What do you know about "Sheneneh and Demarcus" just because you know their names? That's the racism. You don't know anything about them, except possibly that they enjoy traveling. America is not supposed to judge a person according to where they were born, but according to who they are.

  82. While I generally always stand up for black folk and the rampant racism thrown their way simply because of their skin color, this is one point (from David) about which I'd have to agree. I too have noticed that whenever you read about young black kids who got into trouble, 9 times out of 10 they have these fake 'back to the motherland' names, the mother (or grandmother) of the kid is usually mentioned in the story, but 9 times out of 10, no dad is anywhere to be found. We've all seen the result of this recipe for disaster...when uneducated girls/women procreate with boys/men who everyone knew from the get-go, to be a Loser. (Sure, black boys/men have it tough in the inner-city...rotten schools, violent neighborhoods, poverty, often unstable home environments, systemic racism, for-profit prisons which are only too eager to criminalize young black males, etc. But that's a whole 'nother issue to be tackled...) In the meantime, we need to figure out how to improve the self-esteem of girls/women in these neighborhoods so that they see a real future for themselves. They don't need a man...any old man...even a order to be happy. Having another baby is not going to 'bring that man of hers' around. Until we fix this cycle of poverty, nothing will change or improve.

  83. "Ms. Cherry and Mr. Grant, who rented the Atlanta house, said that they were not waiting for Airbnb to address bias and announced this month that they plan to start Noirbnb."

    "A January study from Harvard Business School found that Airbnb users with distinctly African-American names were roughly 16 percent less likely to be accepted as guests than those with distinctly white names. The difference persisted, according to the report, whether the host was black, white, male or female, or whether the accommodations were shared or not."

    So how do they plan to tackle the problem of black people not wanting to rent to black people at the same rate that hosts overall don't want to rent to black people? Is the service going to be only for black people, and would that not constitute overt discrimination?

  84. @SB
    "Is the service going to be only for black people...." Of course not, but with a name like Noirbnb (and I'm sure that they'll have a policy statement), you'd be really stupid to list with them if your intention was to discriminate.

  85. As the article reported, noirbnb will be open to everyone. Why can't we all just get along? For renters of color, it will probably come down to the best deal they can get in the best location. Same as for everyone else.

  86. white...peach or beige a colour....

  87. Do I have to rent to people coming to town for a Trump rally?

  88. You mean hard working law abiding tax paying citizens? You don't have to but you 'd be stupid not to.

  89. Jack up the prices.

  90. "law abiding, tax paying, citizen" would all be easy enough to verify. "hard working" not so much.

    I agree, though. Declining Trump supporters just for their political beliefs would be a YUGE personal financial mistake!

  91. Back in the 1960's when the Civil Rights Acts were passed, there was quite a bit of talk in the legislative history about "Mrs. Murphey's Boarding House" and why very small business providing accomodations should be exempt from the Act's coverage. The argument was that a person renting rooms in his or her own home should not be forced to rent rooms to everyone. I can't recall, but I seem to remember that there was indeed an exception for Mrs. Murphey types of business.

  92. I just checked. The Mrs. Murphy exemption is enshrined in the current law at 43 USC Sec. 2000a which reads in determining what establishments were to be covered by the 1964 law:
    "(1) any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests, other than an establishment located within a building which contains not more than five rooms for rent or hire and which is actually occupied by the proprietor of such establishment as his residence;"

    The 1964 Civil Rights law also did not apply to genuine private clubs that were not open to the public.

  93. You are absolutely right. The fair housing law specifically exempts hosts providing housing in their primary residence. This exemption is extended up to a 4-plex when the landlord lives in one of the units. Just saying how the law treats it. And in real estate practice - it is not a discrimination to refuse a client if it does not feel safe. Race has nothing to do with it.

  94. “Airbnb wasn’t the one who discriminated; it was the homeowner who exhibited ugly behavior...”. Very, very wrong. Airbnb is a for-profit company, and must ensure that they do not promote or allow discrimination. Airbnb and their subcontractors- the people who rent our their houses- are engaging in business and must act like all other decent American businesses which offer public accommodations.

  95. If someone doesn't want to rent his or her apartment on a short term basis to a person of any race our orientation, nothing will ever change that.

  96. Yep, old news for me. Got discriminated so heavily while trying to AirBnb in NYC. Never using AirBnb again.

  97. It is someone's private home; therefore, they are able to select who they desire. Having a rental in your private home is also up to the owner.

  98. How about: no more profile pictures on Air BnB.

  99. I absolutely want to see who I am potentially inviting into my primary can tell a lot by looking into a person's eyes .... nothing to do with race. I recall a few (rare) instances where I've seen people (white men) on the train who scared the bejesus out of me....something about a cold, hardened look to their their mouth and jaw were held very rigidly (i.e., 'angry'), a 'dead' soul-less look in their eyes, etc.

  100. To be fair, every "crazy" does not have bugged-out Charles Manson eyes. Ted Bundy was thought to be quite handsome and "normal -looking" and he continued to receive marriage proposals while on Death Row.

  101. How convenient that the woman who experienced discrimination is creating her own Airbnb like company called noirbnb? This smells more like a marketing ploy by the woman to promote her own business than anything to do with discrimination.

  102. Depends on the customer; depends on the host. At least Airbnb is making a good-faith effort to address the more nefarious aspects of their user base. In addition to discrimination, tax avoidance is another charge typically leveled against the company. However, compare Airbnb to similar companies within the "sharing" economy.

    Consider HomeAway. They explicitly reject the legal argument that the company is responsible for vendor or customer behavior. They just provide the software... or so the argument goes.

    For a rough analogy, imagine an Uber driver that shows up wasted. On the other side, imagine you're a driver and your fare is falling down drunk when you show up. Now imagine you're 50 miles from anywhere. That's more or less the risk you run with informal renting. Is there discrimination? Absolutely.

    Hoteliers are no more honest though. Hotels in transient worker towns have guests sign 30-day rental agreements to avoid certain tax and safety laws. Many hotels and motels collect taxes from guests but never remit them in tax filings. The State and County governments generally lack the resources to audit individual violators.

    My favorite: one very well known online travel company allegedly collects taxes from customers at retail but then only remits the wholesale amount. They are essentially padding their balance sheet by several percentage points on each transaction. I'd be surprised if that didn't qualify as multi-million dollar consumer fraud.

    But so it goes...

  103. Quite the accusation. Thanks to your comment perfectly reputable operations are suddenly falling under suspicion. So, Andy, how about being more specific or retracting?

  104. This is sad yet completely predictable outcome. News media, crime statistics, rap videos tell us 24/7 that African Americans are to be feared and avoided. I'm sure that African Americans who created user profiles on AirBnB are the least likely folks to cause trouble when renting rooms. But, when you're renting out rooms to complete strangers, why invite trouble and scrutiny when you can simply avoid it by renting it out to whites and maybe Asians? This is the epitome of "reasonable racism"--who needs traditional racism when you can wrap it in statistical niceties and cool cultural representations? While Samsung can move Galaxy 7's with Lil Wayne and his crew pouring champagne on his smart phone on a coffee table, would you want them doing that on your own living room? In America, the toughest person to be is an educated, professional, responsible African American.

  105. "...when you're renting out rooms to complete strangers, why invite trouble and scrutiny when you can simply avoid it by renting it out to whites and maybe Asians?"

    When you can simply 'avoid' the trouble that (most/all) black guests bring? Oye. There have never been white or Asian guests who've caused problems for Airbnb hosts?

    As an Airbnb host myself, I read between the lines for every potential guest who writes me. I could care less what race the person is. Does the person have a clear photo where I can see their face....their eyes? If not, I don't rent to them. Do they show courtesy in how they communicate with me?....Do they tell me a bit about themselves or is there profile blank?...Do they seem to have basic social skills based on how they communicate?.... etc.

    This is how I determine who to host. Haven't had any issues so far. In fact, nothing but wonderful experiences. Clearly I know how to select my guests as, in many instances they PAYING guests also came to my home bearing a gift or two from their country. How sweet is that??! ;-) I generally attract a certain type of guest because they understand I am a certain type of host (based on my photos and my reviews and the fact that I only rent out my one and only home to SHARE with them). And the other few who write me and are just clearly looking for the cheapest place and who have written multiple hosts yet have told me nothing about themselves....??? Them I politely decline. ;-)

  106. You simply can't have your cake and eat it too: you can't use the website to gain access to their large pool of potential users and then discriminate against those same users based on unlawful criteria!

  107. Yes, in fact, I can - and I really don't care how your progressive sensibilities are impacted.

  108. How do you go from "unlawful" to "progressive" in one coherent thought? One is a clear, public, documented dichotomy (legal/illegal), the other a spectrum - not to mention just recklessly jumping from the judicial to the political.

  109. Although it hurts to acknowledge it, the fact is that black males commit over 50% of the violent crime in this country while the constitute only 6% of the population.

    I always feel bad for normal black people in these situations. They are paying for the misdeeds of a minority of their minority.

    Still, you can't blame a would-be renter for watching the news.

    And if the chatter is correct, black people have similar issues renting to other blacks.

    So to me this is just common sense manifesting itself in the middle of a bunch of politically correct nonsense.

    No one is going to tell me who I have to rent my house to, and I will continue to discriminate as I see fit regardless of what happens to AirBNB.

  110. So basically what you are saying is that because young black males commit most violent street crime, that people have good reason to be suspicious of most/all young black males? Do people have no radars?...they can't tell a nice young black male from an obvious rough-around-the-edges or straight out thug young black male? Seriously?

    By your rationale, I guess we also should not entrust our investment accounts, bank accounts, etc. to most/all middle-aged white men, seeing as they commit 90% of all white collar crime.

    Get my point? Why is it that people tend to trust most/all middle-aged white men, or can differentiate on the street, the white guys who are 'nice' versus the white guys who are clearly 'trouble' the minute you set eyes on them? Why are people able to make the distinction here, but when it comes to young black males they are 'all' seen as potential criminals??

  111. Kudos Randall for posting the link. So often individuals make claims without any substantial facts to back them which I always find frustrating.
    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, just don't portray them as facts. Thank god for the internet and your brilliant use of it.

  112. A home owner has a right to host whomever she wants, and they also have the right to rely on their experience (or prejudice), however distasteful these might be. If black homeowners choose not to rent to black customers or want to live in 'white' neighborhoods, that clearly is their right (and just as clearly not racism; so why paint the whites with the same brush?).

    I think AirbnbNoir is a great idea and I wish the founders the best of luck.

  113. Yes, you are correct. Homeowners do hav the right to refuse people of other races to utilize their homes. However, Air nub has the right to ban such racist people from being clients as well.

  114. It's a temporary Bnb, a business. Would it be acceptable if a shop discriminated against customers this way? If you want full control then don't run an airbnb service.

  115. Why would the company who simply provides a venue to do business be responsible for the actions of individuals using the site? Is Ebay liable if I refuse to sell to someone?

  116. Airbnb is clearly facilitating interaction between the races by virtue of the business model. People will be rubbing elbows more often with people not exactly like themselves. While there are going to be problems, this increased interaction should actually improve relations in the long run. If we are meant to get along, which I do believe, then "it's all good" applies here.

  117. I recently joined airbnb to stay in NYC and was required to post a picture. No problem, but I had the distinct feeling that my "lack of credentials" had more to do with my age, which is over 60. Owner made much of being a young male in his bio. And how you get online airbnb credentials if you can never rent because of the lack of credentials is kind of a mystery.....

  118. Since Airbnb is generally illegal in NYC, the host was probably just making sure you were legit and not a neighbor or the authorities trying to shut their illegal business down.

  119. If you can't afford a hotel, what do you expect? Geez, save up the money and enjoy rather than worry. The dollar is so great against the Euro, I stayed in a 5 star hotel in Verona last year for $161.00 dollars a night. Cheapos! Don't complain. and don't visit southern states at all. Teach them a lesson.

  120. Calling people on a limited budget "cheapos." Classy..,,

  121. What do southern states have to do with anything?

  122. ...white, black, tuti-fruti with tangerine polka dots: I don't want perfect strangers hanging out in my home. :b

  123. If you don't want strangers in your home then don't become an airbnb host. It's completely optional.

  124. Melting pot, really?
    All Americans should be ashamed of the blatant hypocrisy of false claims of unity and equality.

    I left and never looked back.

  125. Yes, Europe, where there are no problems, discord, or discrimination.

  126. I had to check. Congratulations! Your disgust at America's failure as a melting pot manifested itself in you moving to the WHITEST nation on earth. The demographics are clear.

  127. This is why I stay in regular hotels, like a Marriott or a Hilton, and I am a white guy. I know that I, and the other guests, will be treated properly by responsible hoteliers.

  128. ( My video on discrimination )
    As an AIRBNB host I want to say that anyone can stay with us - I love meeting people from all over the world, and have hosted from many different countries.
    All that we ask is that people are respectful, do not have loud parties, trash the place or smoke :)

  129. Airbnb did/does discriminate through their contracts with racist hosts and their continued hiding behind arbitration rules to prevent people from having redress.

  130. This is precisely one of the reasons why I wouldn't stay in an Airbnb property - you just never know. A well-regulated hotel is a much better deal. For heaven's sake, who would have thought The Green Book (travel guide listing accommodations across the US that accepted black people in the Jim Crow era) would need to be resurrected in 2016? I usually say that Jim Crow is dead but I guess it isn't in some areas.

  131. My friends and I stayed in an atrocious Airbnb this past weekend in DC. My friend who booked the place and happens to be black has historically had a very tough time getting any of her reservations to be accepted on the platform. When we called customer service to let them know about the unsafe and unclean conditions in our listing we brought up #airbnbwhileblack as a concern but were scoffed at by customer service; Josh J. at Airbnb told me that "it wasn't racism because the host was black and black people can't be racist against other black people." When I asked to speak to his manager he told me he didn't have one. I am still waiting to hear a resolution from Airbnb and am still waiting for an apology for having to deal with someone who so clearly knows so little about how discrimination and bias play out. Despite this being such a public issue for the company they still have a ton of work to do in order to fix their platform to block bias, and there is still so far they need to come in terms of educating their staff.

  132. What did unsafe and atrocious conditions have to do with you being black and bringing up the #AirBnbWhileBlack to the customer service rep!? Unless by some crazy scenario, the host knowing you were black, purposely wanted it to be unsafe for you? Previously being in customer service and being a minority myself, nothing irks me more than when the race card is brought up for the sake of bring up the race card and it in no way applying to the situation.

  133. Well

    If you did not like the conditions you have a right to complain. But why bring up the race card? Your friend "happened to be black"? Sounds like you were looking for a fight and got what you wanted

  134. The stated purpose of the company is to be inclusive and they should put into place, a clear policy that hosts must agree to. Everyone is invited to stay in my home and the problems that I have encountered are not racial but the downside of privileged and entitled people.

    In the many and varied discussions I have had with my Muslim, and guest of varied races, I have learned (as I had to do with having a "Jewish" last name in a southern state as a child), that bias can bestow a certain dignity upon the discriminated. At breakfast one morning, an African-American guest explained that often, they strive to be the cleanest, most polite and gracious people in the general white culture, because they know they are easy targets. I have held onto that observation. Having grown up part of my life in an Arkansan culture in which people of color figured positively and prominently in our lives growing up in a large family, it is despicable to think that people deprive themselves of being their better angels as well as depriving themselves of richer lives by understanding who is before us. Obviously, it bespeaks of the content of hosts' characters which is found lacking in these instances.

  135. I have an Asian last name, and when I tried to book a room in Brussels, I got turned down by about 3 or 4 people, even when their calendars clearly showed that the places were available on the dates that I requested.

  136. This is a sticky issue, because we're talking about pvt homes. And it's not a "civil right" to be allowed into someone's home.

    I'm not unsympathetic. I've had issues w VRBO where an owner took my cred. Card, took a 'deposit ' then told me, "I rented to someone else." I'm white. So it happens to everyone. Renting from private owners is problematic at best.

    Ps- vrbo never responded to my complaint, either.

  137. There's nothing sticky about it. If you have a private home and don't want to rent to blacks then you won't be renting to anyone as you are not allowed to discriminate.

  138. Gee... I've been an AirBnb host for years, and the rules are clear... if I turn down a reservations for ANY reason I am penalized. I would not turn down a minority (since really aren't we all...) but to blame the company for a single host's actions is like blaming all (cops, politicians, men, clergy) for the sins of a few.

  139. I guess the people who started Noirbnb didn't see that "[discrimination based on a person's name] persisted, according to the report, whether the host was black [or] white"

  140. I detest Airbnb but on this the company is blameless. It's not Airbnb's fault that some people are living in the past.

  141. Racism, discrimination or anything else in between will never disappear. Its just the way things are. Consider this simple query. Is Airbnb an international entity ? Are all countries from Somaila to Saudi on the list ? Can a traveler rent property in say, Israel vs. Syria with the same degree of ease and live there a few days without being singled out or targeted particularly if they are dressed as Jew in Syria or a Muslim in Israel ? Are people the same all over the world ? We kid ourselves if we assume religion, color, language, name or nationality do not matter. They should not, but they do.

    Animals do not tolerate another animal (from outside the 'clan' or even if a different kind). Humans don't either although we may be slightly better at acceptance and pretense. I do not know why this is such a big deal.

  142. Seriously? You don't know why this is such a big deal?

    It's a big deal because there's an animal part of our brain and a more evolved part. We're expected as human beings to live harmoniously with other people because fighting and killing over race, nationality, etc. has not advanced our common goals as humans living on the planet.

    In fact, it makes us less safe and shortens our lives and diminishes our prospects.
    And contrary to what fuzzy thinkers like you apparently think, it doesn't have to be that way. Because people have the power to overcome and change, and history is full of examples.

    Unlike wolves, for instance, or animals that attack what they don't recognize immediately as their own.

  143. We have our first Airbnb guests in our in-law suite right now. Despite our house rules, a party is going on, loud music is playing and there are new folks showing up at our front door. Last night we lost our cool when the party they were having at our pool reached 10 people and we were concerned our neighbors would complain. The lack of respect for our home is astonishing. Not sure we'll rent again without a more thorough screening.

  144. What about the response I received from when I contacted about selling my products? I was upfront about not being black:


    Thank you for contacting us. We are a community of consumers interested in making purchases solely from "Black Owned" businesses on this particular platform. I'm sure your products are awesome and you are as well, but as we work to combat many social ill in the black community it's important that we live up to our brand and the expectation of every customer that shops on this site--that they are buying from Black owned businesses.

    Thank you!

    Thank you,


  145. They stated upfront this was a service for Black owned businesses. Not the same category at all either.

  146. Not all countries have discrimination policies. Many allow you to discriminate in housing

    I think Air Bnb hosts should say upfront ....

    We don't rent to
    2. muslims,
    3. women,
    4. same sex couples, etc.

    That way we won't waste our time applying

  147. I'm a minority. Hosts can clearly tell from my AirBnB profile picture.
    Most of the time I have no issues with hosts. But once in a while I book something..only to be told the place is already booked or the place isn't available for one reason or another.
    But then you check back ....and the host is still advertising his property on the same days I booked.
    I have a superb record as a guest and over 40 positive reviews.
    So...other than race... I can't imagine why people would reject me but continue to advertise their listing
    It would be better if we didn't have to post our pictures on airBnB. I can't think of anything my picture would convey to a host that he would need to know.

  148. Honestly, as an African American woman I am done with people who, considering THEIR global history, are the very LAST group of people to pass judgement on others. As far as I'm concerned, if someone doesn't want me to stay at their place and would rather that it sit unoccupied and void of revenue, then that's fine by me. I neither want to go stay in a home where I'm unwanted nor will I reduce myself to hiding what I look like JUST to find a place to stay. If these primitive racists do not want me staying on their property, then I'd rather spend my money on a hotel room or find another place to vacation than to pay the likes of them.