Racism can sometimes be hard to prove, so when concrete proof comes around, it can be very illuminating.
Greg Selden, a 25-year-old from Richmond, Virginia has exposed a racist double standard when he was looking to find somewhere to stay on the popular rental app Airbnb. He created two profiles, one using a real picture, and another in which he pretended to be a white man. He made an inquiry to a renter in Pennsylvania first as himself, and then as his white alter-ego, and the responses are dismaying but not surprising.
Selden explained that after he was rejected from the property, he created the fake profile and reapplied to that same listing. That time, the property suddenly became available, essentially proving that he was rejected by the host due to the color of his skin.
Selden tweeted screenshots of the conversation with the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack and has received over 3,000 retweets:
Selden told Buzzfeed that while he had initially didn't read much into being told by the host that the home was unavailable, he became suspicious when he realized that the same listing showed as available for the dates he requested, despite being told it had been filled up. He then created two fake profiles of white men, one with similar information to himself, and one who was slightly older, and then reapplied. The host promptly accepted both fake profiles.
Selden said that he accepts the fact that it is the man's right to decide whom he accepts and who he rejects but added, "I just with the determining factor had to do with something other than my skin."
When Selden confronted the AirBnB host and admitted that he had created the fake, accepted, white profiles, the host responded, "It's a disappointment people like you always victimize yourselves solely on the basis of skin color."
An Airbnb spokesman told Buzzfeed that the company is taking steps to prevent instances like this in the future. "We recognize that bias and discrimination present significant challenges, and we are taking steps to address them,” the spokesperson said. “Profile photos are an important part of our community and are one of the many tools that help hosts and guests connect with one another. We welcome the opportunity to work with anyone that can help us reduce potential discrimination in the Airbnb community."
The company also added that the reason Selden was mostly likely rejected is because he had only requested a one-night's stay initially, but Selden says that his requests under the fake profiles were exactly the same.
It wouldn't be surprising if others have faced similar discrimination, though not everyone has taken the time to catch racism in the act the way Shelden did.
(Photo: Caiaimage / Martin Barraud / Getty Images)