Traveling while Black. Yes, it’s a thing – or rather – an experience that Airbnb has failed to acknowledge according to the lawsuit filed by 25 year-old Gregory Seldon.
Seldon filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Washington D.C. federal court against the start-up claiming that the company has routinely violated the Fair Housing Act and the civil rights of people of color. He claims that an Airbnb host denied him accommodations when he requested to book a room under his personal profile, which included his photo, but was accepted when he requested to book the room using fake profiles posed as white men.
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When Seldon confronted the host online, the host replied, “It’s a disappointment people like you always victimize yourselves solely on the basis of skin,” Seldon told NBC12.
And Seldon is not the only one who understands the experience of being discriminated against while using #AirbnbWhileBlack:
I’ve also had hosts who were “omg so surprised!” at how clean and responsible we were. Yay for low expectations! #AirbnbWhileBlack
— [ahh!ree] (@aripiphany) May 19, 2016
When you got to throw three to four Valenica filters on your profile picture before booking with AirBnB! #AirbnbWhileBlack
— WNA (@wordsbywanna) May 17, 2016
Tried to book a place in Cape Town, and all of a sudden, they remembered that they’d be ‘having friends over.’ #AirbnbWhileBlack
— Free (@TheFridaM) May 8, 2016
The inherent problem with Airbnb is that hosts can see renters before agreeing to book them – unlike hotel sites. Since Harvard’s study, conducted two years ago, which found that “requests from guests with distinctively African-American names are roughly 16% less likely to be accepted that identical guests with distinctively white names,” the startup has yet to make changes in their design that combat the possibility for discrimination.
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“While we do not comment on pending litigation, we strongly believe that racial discrimination is unacceptable and it flies in the face of our mission to bring people together,” Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas said in a statement to Mashable.