#AirbnbWhileBlack Shows the Struggles of Vacationing as a Black Person

April 29th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

Black people on Twitter want to go on vacation and they want to use the rent-sharing website Airbnb to do it. Maybe they want to spend a weekend with the bae of their choice or maybe it's a trip with friends.

Maybe they need temporary housing for a work assignment. Either way, Black people have discovered that even despite strong applications, it was hard for them to get lodging.

They're using the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack to talk about the Airbnb struggle on Twitter.

One Black woman told NPR that she didn't have better "luck" on Airbnb until she changed her picture and her name.

Quirtina Crittenden changed her picture to a cityscape and shortened her first name to "Tina" so hosts couldn't tell her race. "Ever since I changed my name and my photo, I've never had any issues on Airbnb," Crittenden said.

In fact, it's 16 percent harder for Black Airbnb users to find lodging, according to a study by Harvard Business School. Researchers ran an experiment to see if Airbnb renter requests would be accepted differently based on race. They sent out 6,400 requests to Airbnb hosts in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Dallas, St. Louis, and Los Angeles.

The requests were all the same except for the names they put on the requests. The ones with what society considers "Black-sounding" names like Jamal and Tanisha were accepted less by the hosts even if the hosts were also Black.

In a different Harvard Business School study the researchers also found that Black hosts also receive 12 percent less money than white hosts on Airbnb.

Discrimination can run into an even more important type of application as well: job applications. A different study called "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination" was published in the American Economic Review in 2004, and showed that Black-sounding names can put applicant resumes in the "no" pile. Researchers sent fake resumes with white-sounding names and Black-sounding names to job postings in Boston and Chicago. White names received 50 percent more call backs than Black names.

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