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Vacation rental site Airbnb recently removed a listing inaccurately marketed as an “1830s slave cabin” after a viral Tik Tok exposed the company for promoting it on their platform.
On Monday, the company took down the listing of the Panther Burn Cottage on Belmont Plantation in Greenville, Mississippi and apologized in an official statement. The owner, Brad Hauser, also released a statement, claiming that the listing had been put up by the former owner and he had no access to social media and property rental sites.
Sent to CNN, Hauser, who says he’s been the new owner for three weeks, said that the cabin will no longer be available for rent while Airbnb apologized for the amount of time it took for them to remove the listing and promised to develop new policies.
The listing was first discussed in a two-minute video that’s gained over two million views since it was uploaded by entertainment lawyer and civil rights attorney Wynton Yates. After being sent a link to it by his brother in a family group chat, Yates made the video calling out the company for its practices.
Uploaded by an owner that Airbnb has labeled as a “Superhost,” the listing was described as a “bed and breakfast” that was moved to the plantation and was previously a two-bedroom sharecropper’s cabin that was made into a doctor’s office.
“To renovate a slave cabin into a modern day lush bed and breakfast is to say the history and experiences lived in that building did not matter,” Yates told TheHub News. “That slave cabin and many other slave cabins and quarters throughout this country would be considered the ancestral homes of many black Americans. Those ancestral homes were built by us, but they weren’t owned by us.”
“They were owned by the plantation owners and the slave owners, so to renovate those spacings into modern day B&B is to say your history- your family history- doesn’t matter and we don’t care,” he added.
Airbnb has previously faced backlash for its practices as, in 2016, they were accused of being discriminatory in who they offer listings to. In a study conducted by Harvard Business School, researchers found that, when names that they determined were “distinctively African American sounding” were entered into the site, the guests were 16% less likely to get a reservation compared to when names that they determined were “distinctively white sounding” were entered with identical guest information.
Although the company has since promised to devote itself to diversity and inclusion following the Black Lives Matter Movement and has partnered with equity project “We All Count” to combat racism, Yates believes that there’s still a lack of Black presence in the company that’s to blame for Airbnb’s latest mistake.
“For them, it’s just trendy to be diverse instead of actually being diverse because it is a positive thing,” said Yates. “It wasn’t that they weren’t paying attention, it’s just that they didn’t have representation in the room that could have spoken up and said ‘Hey, this is wrong and we shouldn’t allow this on our platform.’”
Following the release of the company’s statement, Yates says he expects more from Airbnb and hopes to see real change from the company as their next steps.
“For companies to say stuff like that, it’s okay, but words aren’t enough,” said Yates. “We need action. Proper action. We need to see you follow through.”