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11 November 2016

A Non-solution to #AirbnbWhileBlack

I got this email from Airbnb a couple weeks ago (10/29/2016):

The Airbnb Community Commitment
Earlier this year, we launched a comprehensive effort to fight bias and discrimination in the Airbnb community. As a result of this effort, we’re asking everyone to agree to a Community Commitment beginning November 1, 2016. Agreeing to this commitment will affect your use of Airbnb, so we wanted to give you a heads up about it.
What is the Community Commitment?
You commit to treat everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.
How do I accept the commitment?
On or after November 1, we’ll show you the commitment when you log in to or open the Airbnb website, mobile or tablet app and we’ll automatically ask you to accept.
What if I decline the commitment?
If you decline the commitment, you won’t be able to host or book using Airbnb, and you have the option to cancel your account. Once your account is canceled, future booked trips will be canceled. You will still be able to browse Airbnb but you won’t be able to book any reservations or host any guests.
What if I have feedback about the commitment?
We welcome your feedback about the Community Commitment and all of our nondiscrimination efforts. Feel free to read more about the commitment. You can also reach out to us at allbelong@airbnb.com.
The Airbnb Team 
The trouble is that, while this might seem like a good move, it actually reframes the documented racism on Airbnb as a problem of overt individual racism (i.e. bigotry) instead of as what it really is, a problem of subtle individual racism--more specifically, of implicit bias. If we go looking for classical racism, we're increasingly unlikely to find it, which means that we won't be able to address the issue.

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