Airbnb removed listings and apologized on Monday after a TikTok user complained that a “slave cabin” in Greenville, Mississippi, had been listed as a bed and breakfast.
Wynton Yates, a black lawyer from New Orleans, posted a video that went viral last week blasting the online rental app for listing the “Panther Burn Cottage” at Belmont Plantation. Screen captures taken by Yates showed the listing described as an “1830s slave cabin” that had also been used as a “tenant sharecroppers cabin” before being converted into a bed and breakfast.
“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?” Yates asked in the video.
“The history in this country is constantly being denied and now it’s being mocked by turning into a luxurious vacation spot,” Yates said after pointing out the rental featured running water and lighting fixtures, luxuries that were not enjoyed by the enslaved people once held there.
The video has been viewed more than 2.6 million times and led to a wave of backlash against Airbnb.
The San Francisco-based company apologized on Monday and announced that it is “removing listings that are known to include former slave quarters in the United States.”
“Properties that formerly housed the enslaved have no place on Airbnb,” Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said in a statement to the Washington Post. “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.”
The owner of the listing, Brad Hauser, said that he only recently acquired the property in July and that it had been a doctor’s office, not slave quarters. He said the previous owner had made the “decision to market the building as the place where slaves once slept,” a decision that Hauser, a white man, “strongly opposed.”
“I am not interested in making money off slavery,” Hauser told the Washington Post, claiming he had been “misled” about the property and apologizing for “insulting African Americans whose ancestors were slaves.”
Airbnb and Booking.com have reportedly suspended advertising contracts with Belmont “pending further investigation” into the matter.
“I intend to do all I can to right a terrible wrong and, hopefully, regain advertising on Airbnb so The Belmont can contribute to the most urgent demand for truth telling about the history of the not only the South but the entire nation,” Hauser said in a statement.