Is It Finally Safe To #AirbnbWhileBlack?

Netta Dobbins
Netta Dobbins

In May 2016, stories about the continuous discrimination many people of color were facing while trying to book a place on Airbnb began to surface. All around the world, Black users revealed experiences of being denied reservations without reason — leaving them stranded the day of, and sometimes, without a place to stay. This sparked the #AirbnbWhileBlack Twitter hashtag that eventually went viral, and initiated the launch of two Airbnb competitors specifically targeting black travelers, Innclusive and Noirbnb.




However, after four months of constant controversy and criticism, the company issued a statement to address users' concerns. Thursday morning, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky sent out a detailed email to the Airbnb community, describing their new anti-discrimination policies in hopes of eliminating this issue. Their new Airbnb Community Commitment states:

We believe that no matter who you are, where you are from, or where you travel, you should be able to belong in the Airbnb community. By joining this community, you commit to treat all fellow members of this community, regardless of race, religion, national origin, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, with respect, and without judgment or bias.

The email also highlighted three ways the company plans to approach the issue at hand. The first being an Open Doors Policy, stating that if any guest feels they have been discriminated against, the company will find them a similar Airbnb location or an alternative accommodation. This has also been extended to all users who have previously reported discrimination. 

The second is an Instant Book Feature. This allows guests to book places to stay immediately without prior approval from hosts. Unfortunately, this feature won't automatically be added to all listings, and hosts have the option to activate this feature. 

Lastly, Airbnb will offer anti-bias training to their community and publicly acknowledge those who complete the training. 

Despite the long wait for resolution, Airbnb seems to be off to a good start. So, are we still mad or nah?

Were you one of the many people discriminated against while trying to use Airbnb? How do you feel about the companies new stance on the issue? Are you more inclined to use Airbnb now? Tell us in the comments below.

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