Airbnb has faced backlash in the days since a TikTok video listing Wynton Yates, a New Orleans civil rights and entertainment lawyer, went viral.
“The history of slavery in this country has been repeatedly denied,” Yates said in Friday’s video, “and now it is being ridiculed for being turned into a luxury vacation spot.” Yates, who is black, added, “This is not okay.”
Now, Airbnb has apologized and noted Monday that it will “remove the listing that allegedly includes former slave quarters in the United States.”
Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said in a statement: “Properties that previously housed slaves have no place on Airbnb. “We apologize for any hurt or grief caused by the presence of this listing and others enjoying it, and we did not act sooner to resolve the matter.”
Brad Hauser, who took over ownership of the Greenville property last month, said in a statement to The Washington Post that although the building was once a doctor’s office and not a slave quarters, , but it was “the previous owner’s decision to market the building as a place where slaves used to sleep”. Hauser, who is white, said he was “strongly opposed” to the previous owner’s decision and vowed to provide guests with a “historically accurate portrait” of life at the Belmont Plantation.
“I don’t care about making money from slavery,” said Hauser, 52, who apologized for the list’s “insulting African-Americans with slave ancestry.”
It’s unclear how many Airbnb listings feature properties in the United States that were once home to millions of enslaved Blacks. Several properties in Georgia and Louisiana billed as enslaved homes have since been removed from Airbnb’s site, according to the report. Mic.
Yates, 34, told The Post on Tuesday that he was first made aware of the Greenville listing in a group text message. Yates said his brother’s friend was looking for rental property in Greenville, about 100 miles northwest of Columbia, SC, and noticed that Panther Burn Cottage was the only available address.
So when Yates’ brother shared the list in the family group text Friday, New Orleans’ attorneys were criticized by it and had the same thoughts: “This is crazy.”
“Watching plantation weddings and events on plantations and suburbs and subdivisions named after plantations and plantation owners is something I have collected every day of my life. But this is a new level of disrespect for what slavery is,” Yates said. “To see the space where the slaves lived transformed into a luxury and rented space just blew my mind.”
Screenshot of list shows the cabin next to a 9,000-square-foot mansion with nine bedrooms and eight bathrooms. Built in 1857, this opulent structure is the “last surviving prefab mansion” in the Mississippi Delta, according to the listing.
Then the listing mentions the history surrounding the much smaller house.
“This particular structure, the Panther Burn Cabin, is an 1830s slave cabin from the extant Panther Burn Plantation south of Belmont,” the listing reads. “It has also been used as a shared tenant’s cabin and a medical office for local farmers and their families to visit the plantation’s doctor.”
The previous owner noted on the listing that the cabin was moved to the Belmont Plantation in 2017 and “meticulously restored”, while keeping some of the cypress wood planks used in the original. built in the 1830s. Panther Burn Cottage is advertised on Airbnb listings as “the last surviving structure from the legendary Panther Burn Plantation”.
Despite the cabin’s history of people living in the cabin as slaves, Yates showed in his TikTok video how it didn’t stop guests who stayed there from leaving raving reviews about the “memorable” listings. Hauser, through a representative, said the reviews are for an unrelated Arkansas property and not the Greenville listing.
“Enjoyed everything about our stay,” commented one woman in July 2021.
“We stayed in the cabin and it was historic but tasteful,” another wrote last October.
“What a fun place to step into Southern history, hospitality and stay a night or two!” a guest said in March.
The contrast between the Panther Burn Cottage estate, with about 80 blacks enslaved in the 1800s and whites today using it as a cute, luxurious vacation spot is “remarkable.” ,” said Yates.
“It was built by slaves and lived by slaves, where they died from overwork, infectious disease, hunger and heartbreak. They died in those spaces,” Yates told The Post. “It’s not a comfortable situation.”
After Yates’ TikTok video of “slave cabins” was viewed more than 2.6 million times, Airbnb said it not only removed all listings advertised as former encampments for slaves, but also “works with experts to develop new policies that address other slavery-related real estate. “
Hauser told The Post that when he initially inquired about the building behind Belmont, the previous owner told him it was not a cabin for slaves and was not advertised as such. He said he was “confused” about the cabin, and noted how Airbnb and Booking.com suspended the advertising contract with Belmont “pending further investigation.”
“I intend to do all I can to correct a horrendous mistake and hope to get back advertising on Airbnb so The Belmont can contribute to meeting the most pressing need for telling the truth about history. history not only of the South but of the entire nation,” Hauser said in a statement.
Yates said he doesn’t know if Airbnb’s apology will lead to situations like Panther Burn Cottage that can be avoided in the future. When asked what he would say to property owners whose buildings used to house black slaves, Yates had a clear message: “Stop romanticizing the regime experience. slave”.
“Because that’s exactly what this is,” he said. “This is the profit from slavery.”