Airbnb apologizes for Mississippi ‘slave hut’ listed as luxury getaway after viral TikTok video

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The Mississippi Airbnb ad seemingly had everything a traveler could ask for in a bed-and-breakfast accommodation: a suite with beautiful antique furniture, plush linens, a brand new bathroom, and access to Netflix on the smart TV.

But there was something else about the Panther Burn Cottage that the luxury listing proudly advertised: The property was an “1830s slave cabin” that housed enslaved people on a plantation in Greenville, Miss.

Airbnb has faced backlash in the days since a TikTok video about the listing of Wynton Yates, an entertainment and civil rights attorney in New Orleans, went viral.

“The history of slavery in this country is constantly being denied,” Yates said in Friday’s video, “and now it’s being mocked by turning it into a luxury vacation spot.” Yates, who is Black, added, “This is not okay at all.”

Now Airbnb has apologized, noting Monday that it is “removing listings known to contain former slave quarters in the United States.”

“Properties where slaves previously lived have no place on Airbnb,” Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said in a statement. “We apologize for any trauma or grief caused by the presence of this listing, and please others, and that we did not take action earlier to address this issue.”

Brad Hauser, who took over ownership of the Greenville property last month, said in a statement to The Washington Post that although the building had been a doctor’s office and not a residence for enslaved people, it was “the previous owner’s decision to the building as the place where slaves once slept.” Hauser, who is White, said he was “strongly opposed” to the previous owner’s decision and promised to give guests a “historically accurate picture” of life at the Belmont Plantation.

“I’m not interested in making money from slavery,” said Hauser, 52, who apologized for the mention “insulting African Americans whose ancestors were slaves.”

It’s unclear how many Airbnb listings contain properties in the United States that once housed some of the millions of enslaved black people. Several properties in Georgia and Louisiana that were billed as lodgings for enslaved people have since been removed from Airbnb’s site, Mic said.

‘These are our ancestors’: Descendants of enslaved people shift plantation tourism

Yates, 34, told The Post on Tuesday that he was first notified of the Greenville listing in a group text message. Yates said his brother’s friend was looking for rental properties in Greenville, about 100 miles northwest of Columbia, SC, and found the Panther Burn Cottage was the only listing available.

So when Yates’ brother shared the entry in the family group text Friday, the New Orleans attorney was floored by it and had the same thought, “This is crazy.”

“Seeing weddings at plantations and events at plantations and suburbs and subdivisions named after plantations and plantation owners is something that has grossed me out every day of my life. But this was a new level of disrespect for what slavery was,” Yates said. “To see the space where enslaved peoples lived was renovated into a luxury space and rented out was just breathtaking.”

Screenshots from the listing show the cabin sits next to a 9,000-square-foot mansion with nine bedrooms and eight bathrooms. Built in 1857, the luxurious structure is “the last remaining antebellum mansion” in the Mississippi Delta, according to the listing.

Then the list refers to the history surrounding the much smaller house.

“This particular structure, the Panther Burn Cabin, is an 1830s slave cabin of the existing Panther Burn Plantation south of Belmont,” the listing reads. “It has also been used as a tenant shack and as a medical office for local farmers and their families to visit the plantation doctor.”

The previous owner noted in the listing that the cabin was moved to the Belmont Plantation in 2017 and “scrupulously restored,” while preserving some of the cypress planks used in the original in the 1830s. The Panther Burn Cottage was advertised on the Airbnb listing as “the last surviving structure of the legendary Panther Burn Plantation.”

Despite the history of enslaved people living in the cabin, Yates pointed out in his TikTok video how it didn’t stop guests staying there from leaving rave reviews about the “memorable” listing. Hauser said through a representative that the reviews are for an unrelated Arkansas property and not the Greenville listing.

“Enjoyed everything about our stay,” said one woman in July 2021.

“We stayed in the cabin and it was historic but elegant,” wrote another last October.

What a lovely place to step into history, southern hospitality and stay a night or two! said a guest in March.

The contrast between the Panther Burn Cottage where about 80 enslaved black people lived in the 1800s and white people who use it today as a cute, upscale vacation spot is “stunning,” Yates said.

“It was built by enslaved people and inhabited by enslaved people where they died from overwork, infectious diseases, hunger and heartbreak. They died in those rooms,” Yates told The Post. “It was not a comfortable situation.”

After Yates’ TikTok video about the “slave hut” had been viewed more than 2.6 million times, Airbnb said it not only removed all ads promoted as former residences for enslaved people, but also “worked with experts to create new homes.” develop policies related to other property related to slavery.”

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 enslaved people, nor was it advertised. He said he was “misled” about the cabin, noting how Airbnb and Booking.com had suspended advertising contracts with the Belmont “pending further investigation.”

“I intend to do everything I can to right a terrible mistake and hopefully get back to Airbnb advertising so The Belmont can contribute to the most pressing demand for truth-finding about the history of not just the South, but the entire nation,” Hauser said. said in a statement.

Yates said he doesn’t know if Airbnb’s apology will help avoid situations like the Panther Burn Cottage in the future. When asked what he would tell property owners about buildings that once housed enslaved black people, Yates had a clear message: “Stop romanticizing the experience of slavery.”

“Because that’s exactly what this is,” he said. “This is profiting from slavery.”

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