Another Indicator–As If We Needed Confirmation

Time Magazine recently reported on a study of bias in the “sharing” economy.

Users of accommodations-booking site Airbnb that have African-American sounding names are less likely to have their rental requests approved by potential hosts, according to a new report that highlights the difficulties minorities face when taking part in the sharing economy.

The study’s findings probably shouldn’t come as a surprise; we have literally mountains of data demonstrating similar results among job-seekers.

This particular report joins daily news reports of attacks on Mosques and Muslims, pushback against efforts like “Black Lives Matter,” and of course, the increasingly unhinged and unapologetic racism of Donald Trump (which has thus far been met with only tepid condemnation from most of the other GOP candidates).

I doubt that Americans will ever be able to have a truly frank, open discussion of race and racism. Even the eruption of long-suppressed animus in the wake of Obama’s election has been met with denial; the existence of overwhelming, vicious hatred directed at the First Family has been denied, or–if admitted–attributed to Obama’s “leftism” (what a joke that is!) or other personal deficits.

And before I get angry posts to the effect that it is legitimate to disagree with the President’s actions and priorities, of course it is.  Criticisms of policies are perfectly reasonable. No one–certainly not this writer–is suggesting that any President is beyond reproach, or that he, or any other political figure, should not be subject to criticism based upon performance.

But let’s get real.Only the willfully blind can miss the obvious: the extent to which the ferocity of attacks on the President and First Lady are based upon the President’s perceived “otherness.”

Racism has been called “America’s Original Sin.” It’s time we dealt with it.

I certainly don’t have a magic wand, nor do I know how to change a culture that accommodates categorizing people on the basis of religion or skin color or sexual orientation. I do know that we can’t solve problems when we refuse to admit they exist.

And we definitely have a problem.

63 thoughts on “Another Indicator–As If We Needed Confirmation

  1. Back to the original topic of Ms Kennedy’s post, “Time Magazine recently reported on a study of bias in the “sharing” economy.

    Users of accommodations-booking site Airbnb that have African-American sounding names are less likely to have their rental requests approved by potential hosts, according to a new report that highlights the difficulties minorities face when taking part in the sharing economy.”

    I read the entire Time Magazine article, and I came away with one primary question, ‘What is an African-American sounding name?”

    Let’s pretend that my African friend from graduate school, David, who’s a citizen of Zimbabwe read this article. David would have questions, for sure. If he came to the US for a visit, would his name, David, raise a flag for Airbnb participants?

    You tell me what an African-American sounding name is because I’m confused at this point.

  2. Ken, you’ve just been fact-checked. I looked at the the ACA plans available in Bartholomew county. There is an Anthem Silver plan whose network includes 2 hospitals and 81 primary care doctors who are accepting new patients.

    Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield · Anthem Silver Pathway X 10 for HSA Silver HMO | Plan ID: 17575IN0700028

  3. @Mary Strinka, I’m still working on the original post’s topic which is that people with African-American sounding names have great problems with securing accommodations via Airbnb.

    Based upon your participation in this particular post, perhaps you can enlighten me by sharing just exactly what is an African-American sounding name.

  4. The explanation of how those names were derived is on page 9 in that study (again, sorry, it won’t cut and paste cleanly)

  5. BSH, what’s David’s last name? Does it sound African?

    Here’s the problem. Nobody wants to rent their home to irresponsible people. They use what tools they can, like profiling, to achieve that. Conservatives ever anxious to create “thems” portray African Americans as irresponsible and whites as responsible: both inaccurate and, in the rental market, illegal, but probably unprosecutable.

    Who’s at fault? Groupthink about groups. There are irresponsible people and races. There is no correlation in real life but it’s a useful political tool anyway.

    Ask Hermann Goehring.

  6. @Mary Strinka, I located the 5 female names and the 5 male names selected by the researchers as African-American sounding names. And, I’m left thinking this short research study was based upon the researchers’ selection of 10 names that they personally thought sounded like African-American names, a subjective exercise for sure.

    As an exercise in humor, I subjectively selected 5 female and 5 male caucasian sounding names that might be bestowed upon children recently born into families of uneducated, ignorant white parents. Female names include: Dakota, Savannah, Destiny, Charity, and Crystal. Male names include: Clint, Garth, Gunnar, Gage, and Harley.

    The lesson I gained from the Time Magazine story surrounds the responsibility of parents to give their children names that will not set them aside as different or as being forever relegated to a particular group in our greater society.

  7. @Pete, my friend David was born in Africa. He was born in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. He’s a native African from the get-go. The only extended time David’s spent outside Africa was during a two-year stint in graduate school in the US where he earned his Master’s Degree in Planning, Regional Planning to be more precise.

  8. Mary Strinka–fact check a little closer on Anthem. Our local paper (I realize it is Gannett) did a report on the policies BCBS/Anthem was pushing, and having had them myself, most doctors are outside the county–so you pay premiums which appear reasonable, but don’t pay squat. I had their dental, and I realize this is anecdotal, but I had their dental coverage for which they rejected every single claim, and I didn’t even get a provider discount because the provider who advertised as taking their dental insurance didn’t take the plan I had–mine was individual. This dentists only took certain group plans, yaddayaddayadda. So the upshot was, you pay premiums for bupkis.

  9. Well, BSH, if
    “I’m left thinking this short research study was based upon the researchers’ selection of 10 names that they personally thought sounded like African-American names, a subjective exercise for sure”,
    then you didn’t really read the research. The names chosen were based on previous research, based on the frequency of occurrence on birth certificates. This list was then validated with a separate test of racial associations, and the validated list of names was used in the BnB study. That’s what actual researchers do, they used actual validated research methods. You could look it up.
    Your point about parental name choices is a whole different discussion, your friend David is probably safe from racial discrimination by people who know only his first name.

  10. girlcousin, I agree most of the optional dental add-ons available through the exchanges are not worth it. No argument there. But that’s a very minor insignificant part of what the exchanges are about.
    Ken made a very specific claim about providers available in a specific location, and his claim was simply, purely, wrong. I’m not saying I would choose Anthem under these circumstances, only that it is at least one policy available with a significant number of in-network providers. Since I don’t actually live in Bartholomew county, I’m not going to spend more time looking into other alternatives there.

  11. @Mary Strinka, you appear to be hellbent on proving beyond a doubt that folks with supposedly and subjectively African-American sounding given names are suffering from discrimination via groups that provide accommodations to tourists.

    I will, before closing out, ask you what you intend to do to change this situation that you seem convinced is thwarting African-Americans who bear names that point toward their being African-American? Where will you start your efforts to change this situation? I’m curious about your future plans for ameliorating this particular perceived unfair situation that causes you such angst as an older white female. Where exactly do you place this perceived unfair situation in your priorities for making a better country? Is this high on your priority list?

  12. BSH, I’m not “hellbent” on proving anything. I didn’t even comment on the subject of this original post until you came here and asked for clarification. I provided that. You’re welcome.

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