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In today’s news under the “WTF” section, a white Airbnb owner in Mississippi had former slave cabin listed as a bed and breakfast rental.
Last week, a TikTok post from entertainment and civil rights attorney Wyton Yates went viral, blasting owner Brad Hauser and Airbnb for listing the quarters as a luxury rental.
Before Airbnb removed the listing, the description of the property specifically stated that it is the 1830’s Panther Burn Cottage used as slave quarters on the Belmont Plantation in Greenville, Mississippi.
Along with highlighting the rental details, Yates also zeroed in on reviews from white patrons. Some of the comments shared about the property and stay were, “We stayed in the sharecropper cabin and ate in the main house,”. “We stayed in the cabin. It was historic but elegant,” and, “What a delightful place to step into history, southern hospitality and stay for a night or two!”.
The house, equipped with a clawfoot tub, heat and air conditioning, running water, internet, an LCD TV with Netflix, HBO and sports channel and Perrier water for guests upon their arrival, is the polar opposite from the accommodations forced on our ancestors. And using words like “elegant”, “delightful” and “southern hospitality” are definitely not what they would use to describe their experiences on the plantation.
Airbnb should be ashamed
Even going as far as using the words “sharecropper cabin” shows how deep the willful ignorance and disrespect runs. A sharecropper is a tenant farmer who gives a part of each crop as rent. Enslaved Africans didn’t have those rights nor were they tenants. They were stolen from their homeland, forced into slavery and it was illegal for them to own or rent property.
In the TikTok video Wynton asks, “How is this ok in somebody’s mind to rent this out? A place where human beings were kept as slaves?”. Well, Hauser claimed he was not interested in making money off slavery and apologized for the listing “insulting African Americans whose ancestors were slaves.” He went on to blame the previous owner, saying it was their decision to convert the cabin from a doctor’s office to an Airbnb rental.
If Hauser, as the current owner, never intended to make money off of slavery and has the power to use his property as he pleases then why wouldn’t he remove the listing the first chance he got?
And of course Airbnb has now apologized, commenting, “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”.
Well, that’s a lie, too, because it had a cozy place on the site until their spot got blown up by that viral video.
Ignorance, capitalism or both?
But let’s just give everybody the benefit of the doubt in their ignorance. Doing so would make the perfect case for the need to teach real history in schools, ending the conservative battle against what’s now being called “critical race theory” and putting a stop to egregious and insulting disrespect to our history.
Call it ignorance or call it capitalism, but it can’t be both. Because the truth is, Airbnb and Brad Hauser were content with lining their pockets until woke culture caught their asses red-handed. And all in all, we’ve had enough of white people and large corporations talking diversity, equity and inclusion out the sides of their necks while romanticizing slavery and oppression and denying history.
We don’t want anymore apologies–we want respect and reparations.