An AirBnB “superhost” sparked the outrage of hundreds of thousands of people last week when he was exposed on TikTok for promoting a former plantation “slave cabin” in Mississippi as luxury accommodations.
“How can it be right to rent out a place where human beings were held as slaves?” asked Wynton Yates, a young black man and civil rights and entertainment industry lawyer in New Orleans, in a video.
The AirBnB profile, since removed by the platform, proudly advertised that the accommodation was an authentic “slave cabin,” built in the 1830s in the town of Greenville and later renamed Panther Burn Cottage.
Screenshots from the original post show that the cabin adjoins an 9,000-square-foot mansion that has nine bedrooms and eight bathrooms. Built in 1857, the luxury property is “the last antebellum mansion standing” in the Mississippi Delta.
AirBnB wants to avoid similar posts
The small cabin kept the same wooden structure and some vintage furniture, but was renovated to add a modern bathroom and other amenities, such as a smart TV with access to streaming services and the internet.
In a video that accumulates almost 3 million views, Yates assures that the history of slavery in the United States “is constantly denied.” “And now they make fun of it, turning it into a luxurious vacation spot. This is not right in the slightest,” he added.
AirBnB responded to the outpouring of criticism with a public apology, stating Monday that it is “removing listings known to include former slave quarters in the United States.”
“Properties that previously housed enslaved people have no place on AirBnB,” company spokesman Ben Breit said in a statement. “We apologize for any trauma or pain created by the presence of this listing, and others like it, and that we did not act sooner to address this issue.”
In a later video, Yates is also outraged by the positive feedback the “superhost” has received from guests. Many noted complete insensitivity to African-American history, calling the structure “elegant” or “better than a hotel.”
The cabin changed hands
Brad Hauser, who took over the Greenville property just three weeks ago, said in a statement to The Washington Post that it was “the previous owner’s decision to market the building as where slaves once slept.”
Hauser said he was “strongly opposed” to that decision, vowing to provide guests with a “historically accurate depiction” of life at Belmont Plantation, where the cabin and mansion are located.
“I’m not interested in making money off of slavery,” said the 52-year-old owner, who apologized for “insulting African-Americans whose ancestors were slaves.”
He added that he was “misled” because when he initially inquired about the structure behind the mansion, the previous owner told him it was not a slave cabin and was not advertised as such. Meanwhile, AirBnB and Booking.com suspended their advertising contract “pending an investigation.”
“I intend to do everything I can to correct a terrible mistake and hopefully bring advertising back to AirBnB,” Hauser said in the statement.
It’s unclear how many AirBnB listings feature properties that once housed enslaved Black people. According to Mic magazine, several locations in Georgia and Louisiana that advertised themselves as such have already been removed from the AirBnB site.
Yates, 34, told The Post on Tuesday that the contrast between the Panther Burn Cottage, which housed some 80 black people enslaved in the 19th century, and the white people who use it as a nice, luxurious place is “mind-boggling.” vacation spot.
“Seeing plantation and suburban weddings named after plantations or plantation owners is something that disgusts me every day of my life. But this was a new level of disrespect,” Yates said. “Seeing the space where enslaved people lived being renovated and rented out took my breath away.”
After Yates’ TikTok video went viral, AirBnB claimed he was now “working with experts to develop new policies to address other properties associated with slavery.”
“Stop romanticizing the experience of slavery,” Yates pleaded. “Because that’s exactly what this is.”
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.