Airbnb Responds to Rialto, California 'Racial Profiling' Incident - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

Airbnb can’t seem to catch a break but the tech company is not backing down when it comes to combating discrimination. In recent news, four Airbnb guests in Rialto, California, were detained after a neighbor wrongly accused them of robbing a home. While Airbnb and their host and guests had no part in contacting law enforcement or the police response, the company is not leaving the matter unaddressed.

Janaye Ingram, head of National Partnerships, and Laura W. Murphy, senior advisor, is requesting to meet with the mayor and chief of police in Rialto to discuss how they can better work together to fight discrimination.

 

Dear Mayor Robertson and Interim Police Chief Kling:

 

We are a Senior Advisor to Airbnb and Head of National Partnerships, respectively, and are writing to express our concern regarding a recent incident outside a home in Rialto. As you know, several Airbnb guests were detained after a neighbor who we believe is not a part of the Airbnb community wrongly accused them of robbing a home. While Airbnb and our host and guests had no part in contacting law enforcement or the police response, we believe it is important to address this matter.

 

We are deeply disturbed by the public reports suggesting that the police department’s response was dictated by the guests’ race. As African-American women who have seen the inequitable treatment of people of color, we know that these kinds of incidents are often rooted in implicit and explicit bias. They are hurtful, discriminatory, traumatic and must end.

 

We also deeply believe that all people of goodwill have an opportunity to work together to root out bias and ensure these kinds of incidents do not happen again. To that end, we write today to request the opportunity to meet with you and your colleagues to discuss Airbnb and the work the private and public sector can do together to fight discrimination.

 

As two women who have a background in social justice issues and who are intensely engaged in Airbnb’s anti-discrimination work, we know that matters regarding discrimination and inclusion cannot be addressed only on a case-by-case basis. The private sector and leaders like you all have an important role to play to make sure that these kinds of events do not happen again.

 

We look forward to the chance to meet with you and discuss how we may work together to make all communities fair and safe for residents and travelers alike.

The companies outreach is part of their ongoing effort to fulfill Airbnb’s mission: creating a world where anyone can belong anywhere. Over the last two years, they have been engaged in a series of activities and initiatives to fight discrimination and bias that include:

  • Launching the Airbnb Community Commitment that reads: “I agree to treat everyone in the Airbnb community—regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.” Everyone who uses Airbnb must agree to this commitment.

 

  • Instituting an Open Doors Policy, which ensures victims of discrimination will be given a place to stay and assistance when booking accommodations. Users can now report a case of perceived or actual discrimination and receive immediate assistance.

 

  • Creating a full-time Anti-discrimination Product Team dedicated to combating bias in any Airbnb rentals that work on a range of projects to fight bias.

 

  • Convening a series of in-depth meetings with civil rights organizations and leaders, in partnership with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, on the changes Airbnb has been making to the platform in its effort to combat discrimination. This coalition of groups includes human rights, racial justice, LGBTQ, religious, labor, disability and women’s organizations.

The company is currently waiting for a response.

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