LONDON: The peer-to-peer rental property platform Airbnb has faced criticism over the listing of “an 1830s slave cabin” in Mississippi, US, after a video of the property went viral on TikTok.
The US company promptly removed the listing from its platform and issued a statement on Monday apologizing for the incident.
“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 the statement.
The platform added that it will introduce new policies to address slavery-related properties.
The “Panther Burn Cottage at the Belmont Plantation” in Greenville, Mississippi, went viral on TikTok last week when Wynton Yates, a Black lawyer from New Orleans, posted a video of the listing, 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?”
Yates showed in his video a series of screenshots that highlighted the listing’s 68 reviews and 4.97 rating.
He added that the listing fell short of properly recognizing the historical importance of the cabin.
“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 added.
The cabin’s owner, Brad Hauser, said that he acquired the property only a few weeks ago and that the listing was advertised as a “slave quarters” on Airbnb by the previous owner.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Hauser added that the cabin was not part of the original plantation and that slaves did not live there.
He promised to give guests a “historically accurate portrayal of life” during The Belmont’s history.
Hauser said: “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 not only the south, but the entire nation.”