Booking A Vacation Spot On Airbnb Isn't So Easy If You're Black

Some users of the popular rental site complain of racial bias against both guests and owners. A Harvard study confirms their concerns.

Race Plays Important Role

After one African-American Airbnb user claimed racial profiling by several hosts, many others joined in the discussion, sharing similar experiences.

Quirtina Crittenden, a 23-year-old business consultant based in Chicago, started the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack to express her frustration at getting declined by hosts when seeking a place to stay via the popular rental app, which asks users to upload a photograph with their names when creating a profile.

“The hosts would always come up with excuses like, ‘oh, someone actually just booked it’ or ‘oh, some of my regulars are coming in town, and they’re going to stay there,’” Crittenden stated in an NPR interview.

“But I got suspicious when I would check back days later and see that those dates were still available.”

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Here’s how other black Airbnb users responded to Crittenden’s story:






As it turns out, the concerns expressed in the hashtag thread are supported by a scientific study.

Last December, Harvard professors found renters with white-sounding names successfully found places to stay 50 percent of the time, compared to 42 percent for African-American names.

Aware of its discrimination problem, Airbnb hired David King III as its first head of diversity and belonging in March.

“We recognize that bias and discrimination present significant challenges, and we are taking steps to address them. Profile photos are an important part of our community and are one of the many tools that help hosts and guests connect with one another,” King said in a statement in response to a racial profiling complaint by New York Public Advocate Letitia James.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with anyone that can help us reduce potential discrimination in the Airbnb community.”

Read More: Homeowners’ House Completely Destroyed By Airbnb Renters