The Digital Nomad Couple Behind The Largest Black-Owned Airbnb List
28th March 2022 by BOTWC Staff
28th March 2022 by BOTWC Staff
They’re compiling the list as they travel to various places!
A nomadic couple launched a “Black Airbnb” initiative to combat discrimination on the platform, creating one of the largest lists for Black-owned Airbnbs.
Jessica E. Boyd and partner Steven M. Hughes are entrepreneurs from South Carolina. In July 2021, hoping to find a new city to plant roots, the couple decided to sell nearly all of their belongings and travel the country searching for a new home. Eager to share their travels with family and friends, they created Journey Black Home, a blog that documents their experiences, eats, and stays, as well as focuses on supporting Black-owned businesses.
“For several years, we’d been making loose plans to move from our hometown of Columbia, S.C., to a bigger metro area. We eventually settled on a few new cities to consider but ended up putting the thought of moving on pause when the pandemic hit full force in 2020. After locking down for over a year, in July 2021, we revisited the idea of finding a new home. Rather than just pick a place and go, though, we decided to sell nearly 90% of our belongings to travel Black America and live nomadically on Airbnb,” Boyd told Because of Them We Can.
As Black entrepreneurs, they were aware of the discrimination that clouds the app, choosing to stay at homes owned by Black people. While ideal, it was a tedious task and one they realized would take a bit of organizing to achieve.
“It didn’t take us long to realize that there should be an easier way for Black travelers to book Black-owned or hosted Airbnbs. So, we decided to put together an extensive list of Black-owned stays all over the country, not only for ourselves, but for the benefit of the Black travel community,” Boyd added.
At the top of 2022, the couple began expanding their list, scouring cities and listings on the platform, eventually comprising a list of 200 plus Black-owned or hosted Airbnb stays across the nation. The list not only helped Black guests but also Black hosts while creating an immediate solution to Airbnb’s growing discrimination issue. Both Boyd and Hughes believe that while the company has launched Project Lighthouse, an initiative with various organizations like the NAACP, aimed at helping fight discrimination on the site, this list is a quick, immediate solution to the problem. Low-hanging fruit so to speak.
“We’ve kept in touch with many of the Black hosts we’ve stayed with over the last seven months. We launched a separate Instagram account, @blackairbnbs, to amplify the Black-owned Airbnb listings from our blog and also share tips from the guest perspective to help [Black] hosts attract more bookings on the app,” Hughes said via press release.
The couple is currently on the west coast and hope to continue expanding the list domestically, eventually taking it internationally. Monthly updates are sent to email subscribers, and they are also taking submissions on a rolling basis. While Airbnb has not formally put their stamp on the list, the duo hopes it can inspire the company to be innovative around new and simple ways to support Black and underserved hosts and guests on their platform.
“We want The Black-Owned Airbnb List to be the first stop for Black travelers and nomads when they’re looking for temporary housing in the U.S. A lot of social commentary we’ve seen in response to the list has likened it to the original Green Book, and we believe it can serve a similar purpose in helping Black people navigate domestic travel with greater ease and peace of mind,” Hughes told Because of Them We Can.
Photo Courtesy of Journey Black Home