One-hundred fifty — count ’em, 150! — years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, racial equality remains beyond the grasp of a society that should know better. Rank and file black people continue to suffer indignities at the hands of would be oppressors of all races and, sometimes, even other blacks!
Though for purposes of this post I write from the black perspective, I acknowledge that blacks are not alone as victims of systemic bias. It’s all over the place and as difficult to eradicate as the cockroach. This is because systemic bias has been passed down through the generations like heirloom jewelry.
Over the course of 150 years, civil rights activism has made it far less socially acceptable today for corporations, bureaucracies, public figures or private citizens to practice bias in the open. But like moonshine in the Ozarks, any determined soul can dig up a few cases. And, just like that Ozarks moonshine, as long as those recipes and that know-how remain family traditions, so too will racial bias for those resolved to keep it alive.
Nevertheless, it bears consideration that increasing numbers of individuals and entities of the public and private sectors are taking stronger stances against racial bias as an American institution. In fact, this past week, I bore witness to what I think might be the least ambiguous statement to condemn racial bias by a private sector entity ever. Get at load of this gem of a mass email:
The Airbnb Community Commitment
Earlier this year, we launched a comprehensive effort to fight bias and discrimination in the Airbnb community. As a result of this effort, we’re asking everyone to agree to a Community Commitment beginning November 1, 2016. Agreeing to this commitment will affect your use of Airbnb, so we wanted to give you a heads up about it.
What is the Community Commitment?
You commit to treat everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.
How do I accept the commitment?
On or after November 1, we’ll show you the commitment when you log in to or open the Airbnb website, mobile or tablet app and we’ll automatically ask you to accept.
What if I decline the commitment?
If you decline the commitment, you won’t be able to host or book using Airbnb, and you have the option to cancel your account. Once your account is canceled, future booked trips will be canceled. You will still be able to browse Airbnb but you won’t be able to book any reservations or host any guests.
What if I have feedback about the commitment?
The Airbnb Team
As cynical as I am about the motives of corporations, this email struck me as sincere. I interpret the email as stating unequivocally that the practice of discrimination against persons based on their nationality, religion, sexual orientation, eye color, favorite shade of nail polish, hair style, underwear preference or skin color is completely absurd and needs to stop. I wholly endorse this philosophy as a person who has suffered discrimination, but even more as the father of children who are also at risk.
Thank you, Airbnb. Unlike some other people I could name, you have taken a bold step toward truly making America great again. Maybe you can go a step further and tell us when it stopped being great to begin with…