Airbnb was once an inexpensive alternative to hotels in which the host may offer a level of friendliness and expert tips on how to explore a new area that you just couldn’t receive elsewhere. Nowadays, residences listed on the short-term rental company’s app can be just as expensive as hotels, owned by corporations, saddled with excessive fees, and managed by rude hosts (not to mention voyeurs and worse). The service just ain't what it used to be. But, in at least one way, it’s changing for the better. The platform has recently updated its policy to state it will no longer allow guests to rent the not-so-humble abodes where enslaved people once lived.
The change was announced in the company’s recently published “Six-Year Update on Airbnb’s Work to Fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion” report and states that it will no longer allow listings for homes on former plantations where enslaved people lived or worked if the same structures that existed during slavery are still intact. According to the report, it will ban any “structure specifically designed only to house enslaved people and that did house enslaved people.”
The promotion of anything related to slavery as an amenity is also banned. The report also includes a number of claims about how the company is dealing with its reputation for being a hotbed for discrimination. Airbnb says it has suspended roughly 4,000 accounts this year for violating its nondiscrimination policy and insists it has taken a stance against allowing members associated with far-right organizations to use their service.
Plantations aren’t completely out of the mix, though. Online racial justice organization Color of Change has been helping Airbnb social develop its antidiscrimination policies since 2019, and a viral TikTok about an 1830s slave cabin in Greenville, Mississippi probably sent those efforts into overdrive. Evan Feeney, a deputy senior campaign director for Color of Change, told Buzzfeed that “plantations will be able to be listed [on Airbnb] through specifically curated experiences that have historical value and are not meant to be a form of profit or entertainment.” Eh.
Also, listings based in Plantation, Florida are likely not going anywhere. Florida, man.