Airbnb’s racism problem is much bigger than a few racist hosts.
David Robinson
1.2K126

Aloha David,

As an Airbnb host, I find your article troubling from the title to the last word. First, as to Airbnb itself, there is a culture of inclusion. This culture permeates the platform, and is encouraged across the board. I am not sure what Airbnb does if a host is reported as racist, but based on my personal experiences in encountering their insistence on accountability, if the report sticks, the host will not.

The responsibility to offer adequate levels of housing is one that is typically answered by city planning. It is well within the scope of city planning to grant permits to build under the condition that a percentage be long term rentals in what is designated an affordable range. Management of the buildings can be mandated to require none of the units be used for short term rentals in their entirety. This is where to look for solutions, not in picking on the individual who purchases a house in a community with the intent of renting it out as a vacation rental.

My experiences as a vacation rental host began long before Airbnb. I will spare you the entire story, but the only way I could afford to keep the equity I had built in a condo that had previous gone through an enormous downturn in the Northridge Quake was to purchase a vacation house. The intent in this was to have a place to retire to, and meanwhile rent it to travelers. The long term rental market where it was located was almost non-existent, so bringing in a tenant to pay rent that would not cover even half the costs of the mortgage was not a viable option.

People talk about vacation rentals as if they are by nature illegal. They are not illegal in most places. They offer people with ordinary incomes, and in particular women who are adept at figuring out how to get things done and who are friendly risk takers, to step into a role that suits them, and makes life better all around.

So David, let me suggest something to you that may be as unobvious to you as the nature of the Airbnb host with multiple shared properties in a flashy urban environment: being a vacation rental host is primarily a woman thing. It is a place where women can excel without getting trampled by the men who nearly always are offered a hand up over them in business. So David, what you have just written is inadvertantly stupidly sexist.

I will stop with that. There is so much more. But sit with that a moment. As a woman, your piece is a big slap across my female face. So stop your anti-woman thing, disguised as an anti-racist thing. Check yourself, and get over your snubbed sensibilities.

And to anyone else reading this with raised eyebrows, most of us get ground under somebody’s heel. Doesn’t feel good at all, does it.

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