Airbnb on Monday removed listings where enslaved people in the U.S. once lived following a viral TikTok video slamming a Mississippi property described as a “slave cabin.”
Wynton Yates, a Black lawyer from New Orleans, posted a TikTok about the listing Friday, saying “How is this okay in somebody’s mind to rent this out? A place where human beings were kept as slaves, rent this out as a bed and breakfast?”
The Panther Burn Cabin
He shared screenshots of the listing, displaying the small wood cabin with a bedroom and bathroom, dwarfed by the nearby sprawling mainhouse on the property, located in Greenville, Mississippi.
The Panther Burn Cabin is “an 1830s slave cabin from the extant Panther Burn Plantation to the south of Belmont. It has also been used as a tenant sharecroppers cabin and a medical office for local farmers and their families to visit the plantation doctor,” according to a screenshot of the description Yates posted.
The listing had 68 reviews and a 4.97 rating, his screenshots showed. Yates explained in his video that the listing failed to recognize its history of slavery. “Maybe you’re thinking, ‘Okay maybe this will give people insight into how enslaved people had to live, their living conditions.’ No, not at all. Clawfoot tub, running water, tile, nice lighting fixtures, water, towels, dresser,” he said.
“The history of slavery in this country is constantly denied and now it’s being mocked by being turned into a luxurious vacation spot,” he continued. Watch the video below:
Airbnb, Property Owner Issue Apology
In the wake of the controversy, Airbnb removed the listing from its website and issued an official apology.
“Properties that formerly housed the enslaved have no place on Airbnb. We apologize for any trauma or grief created by the presence of this listing, and others like it, and that we did not act sooner to address this issue,” Airbnb said in a statement provided to CNN.
The company said it is removing other listings that include former slave quarters in the US and is developing new policies.
The new owner of Belmont Plantation, Brad Hauser, also apologized for the listing.
“As the new, three-week owner of The Belmont in Greenville, Mississippi, I apologize for the decision to provide our guests a stay at ‘the slave quarters’ behind the 1857 antebellum home that is now a bed and breakfast. I also apologize for insulting African Americans whose ancestors were slaves,” Hauser said in a statement to CNN.
He also said he was told when he purchased the cottage that it was not a slave quarters because the building was not old enough to have housed enslaved people.
In a now private promotional video posted on YouTube by previous ownership, the cabin is said to have been relocated several years ago to the plantation from Panther Burn, Mississippi, and was initially a two-bedroom sharecropper’s cabin that was converted into a doctor’s office.
Hauser said in his statement that he “strongly opposed the previous owner’s decision to market the building as the place where slaves once slept after toiling in the cotton fields in human bondage.” He added that he has no plans to rent out the cabin again.