The four of us packed our bags, locked up the house and left. As you can see 3 of us were Black. About 10 seconds later we were surrounded by 7 cop cars. The officers came out of their cars demanding us to put our hands in the air. They informed us that there was also a helicopter tracking us. They locked down the neighborhood and had us standing in the street. Why? A neighbour across the street saw 3 black people packing luggage into their car and assumed we were stealing from the house.
When the police sergeant arrived he said they ‘didn’t know what Airbnb was’ and declared that they were lying. The women showed their Airbnb confirmation. They got the property owner on the phone. But “they didn’t know what she looked like on the other end to confirm it was her” so the women were detained for 45 minutes.
Now this isn’t a travel provider’s racism at issue. And it doesn’t speak to anything other than how our expectations can be confounded every day. Whether it’s young people or women riding up in domestic first class, the traditional province of middle aged white male business travelers, or now people checking out of a house in a neighborhood where homeowners expect their neighbors to look like them — as deplorable as this incident is it makes me think that Airbnb is even more important.
We see people checking out of a hotel and that’s normal. We need to get more used to people checking out of homes in our neighborhoods. Because that means getting used to more types of people, more people who ‘look different’, and that happens by making it more commonplace.
It’s a reminder that anti-Airbnb ordinances may have in part deplorable motives. And hotels spending money on front groups to lobby against Airbnb should be ashamed of themselves too.