September 15, 2016
“Why not book an Airbnb?” That was the suggestion which caused a rift in a long friendship. Malika Oyetimein and I met in 1996, when we were high school freshmen. Fast forward to summer 2015, and we were planning a trip to Portland, Oregon. I was flying to Seattle, where Malika lives, and then we’d take a bus to Portland to see the hipster utopia that neither one of us had ever visited. We agreed that I would reserve the rental car for our trip, while Malika would book the accommodations. At the time, I had only used Airbnb once, for a trip to Vancouver—which I also visited during my stay on the West Coast. But the room had been inexpensive and exactly what was promised, and I had heard plenty of other wonderful reviews about the service. I told Malika all this when I persuaded her to book the room on Airbnb. As an added incentive, I had a $100 credit we could use from my American Express card that we could apply to room. Malika was on board. She had heard good things about Airbnb too. But what I didn’t consider was that it might be harder for her to get access to people’s homes. I’m a white man; she’s a black woman….