The ugly reality of discrimination can pop up in many forms, especially on the occasion when people of color are in search of housing.
Airbnb, the popular bed-and-breakfast-inspired service where people can temporarily rent out their homes to travelers, is introducing a new experiment in Oregon to combat prejudice users from denying people based on their racial background by making it so hosts only see the initials of potential guests.
According to NBC News, the initiative will last for at least two years and begin on Jan. 31. Anyone looking to offer housing in Oregon will only see initials of interested guests, and only after the booking is confirmed will Airbnb release the renters’ full names. The practice will only be subjected to one state for the time being, as Airbnb spokeswoman Liz DeBold Fusc told NBC, “Given that the impact of this change is unknown, the implementation will be limited.”
Take a look below to see what inspired Airbnb to implement this anti-discrimination rule in the first place, via NBC News:
“The experiment is linked to the 2019 settlement of a lawsuit by three Black plaintiffs — Pat Harrington, Carlotta Franklin and Ebony Price — who said the site allowed rental owners to discriminate against customers based on race.
‘This update is consistent with the voluntary settlement agreement we reached in 2019 with individuals in Oregon who raised concerns regarding the way guests’ names are displayed when they seek to book a listing,’ according to the Airbnb statement.
‘As part of our ongoing work, we will take any learnings from this process and use them to inform future efforts to fight bias.'”
This unfortunately isn’t a new issue for Airbnb, from one woman who referred to her Black renters as “monkeys” before kicking them out at 2AM back in 2019 to those that accused the lodging site of discrimination years ago and originally helped spark the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack.
Let’s hope this experiment results in some positive change and can soon be implemented globally to put an end to housing discrimination for good.
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