"THIS IS NOT AFRICA!"

A disturbing video of a violent AirBnb host is reigniting fears of racism in the sharing economy

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Quartz africa
Obsession
Getting There
Quartz africa

A video of a white Airbnb host apparently shoving a black woman down a flight of stairs has gone viral, adding to the perception that the house-sharing site’s promise of hospitality is still blighted by discrimination.

South African filmmaker Sibahle Nkumbi was staying in a house in Amsterdam when a disagreement with a host became violent. Nkumbi’s friend recorded the incident and well-known artist and fellow traveller Zanele Muholi posted it to her Instagram account.

In the video, the host is seen trying to evict Nkumbi and her friends after they missed the check-out time. He is seen throwing their bags as the women ask him to calm down. At one point he corners Nkumbi who is trying to steady herself against a wall. He continues to shove her until she falls down the stairs. Even as Nkumbi lies crumpled at the bottom of the stairs, the host is heard shouting “Out! Get Out!”

“You’re not the great artist that you think you are, you’re not the queen that you think you are. You need to leave now. This is not Africa,” Nkumbi recalled in a YouTube interview with an independent journalist.

“The connection of those words,” explained Nkumbi. “Any person of color that reads this and has witnessed racist attacks, you know it when it happens to you.”

Nkumbi says she blacked out when she was pushed and woke up bruised and concussed in the hospital. The man also tried to shove another woman in the group, she said.

The Dutch host has since been arrested and faces criminal charges, according to local news site NLTimes. Airbnb has committed to cooperating with the investigation and is considering banning the host for life.

“Appalling and unconscionable behavior against members of our community runs counter to everything Airbnb stands for,” David King, Airbnb’s Director of Diversity & Belonging, said in a statement emailed to Quartz.

The global home sharing platform has struggled with discrimination, its algorithms unable to intervene on the personal prejudices of hosts and guests. In July last year, the company hired former US attorney general Eric Holder to help solve Airbnb’s diversity challenges. It isn’t just race; LGBTQI guests have also reportedly been denied lodgings.

Some minorities have started their own platforms, like Innclusive—formerly known as NoireBNB—a house-sharing platform for the “global community.” At the same time travel agents and hotels catering specifically to Muslim travelers are growing, in part due to fears of Islamophobia.

This story has been corrected to reflect that Muholi posted the image to her social media account. A previous version stated the artist had recorded the violent incident.

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