Home Hotels Airbnb’s Latest Gaffe? Rentals of “Former Slaves’ Quarters”

Airbnb’s Latest Gaffe? Rentals of “Former Slaves’ Quarters”

by SharonKurheg

Besides the run-of-the-mill rooms, apartments and homes you can rent on Airbnb in every size, shape and price range, they also offer “special” or “different” types of accommodations. We’ve stayed at 2 log cabin in the woods (one in Helen, GA and one near Pigeon Forge/Dollywood/Gatlinburg) thanks to Airbnb. But they’ve also offered “The Godfather” mansion (I grew up a few miles from there. None of us on Staten Island ever thought “The Godfather’s house” was a big deal LOL), the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile and real, actual, ancient castles at one time or another.

If you looked at Airbnb recently, specifically the most northeastern county in Mississippi, about halfway between Memphis, TN and Birmingham, AL, you’d see an Airbnb listing for Panther Burn Cottage at the Belmont Plantation.

According to the Airbnb description (which has since been deleted – we found a Google cache of it on Airbnb’s UK site), The Panther Burn Cabin is partially described as:

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

The is the last surviving structure from the fabled Panther Burn Plantation.

Renting out supposed former slaves’ quarters as an Airbnb? NOT cool. Not cool at all.

Wynton Yates, a Black lawyer from New Orleans, said his brother’s friend was looking for an Airbnb in the area when he found the listing for the former slave quarters from what had been an active cotton plantation before the Civil War.

Yates’ TikTok video about the find was, understandably, scathing:

@lawyerwynton

#airbnb this is not ok. #history #civilrights #americanhistory

♬ Blade Runner 2049 – Synthwave Goose

In just 5 days, the video gathered over 446,000 likes, 16,000 comments and 22,700 shares.

To their credit, Airbnb removed the listing on Monday.

“Properties that formerly housed the enslaved have no place on Airbnb,” the property-rental company said in a statement. ”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.”

Brad Hauser is the owner of the property in question, but has only been as such for 3 weeks. He said the advertising of the building as a slave cabin was the work of the previous owner.

Hauser explained that when he was considering purchasing the property, he asked about the cabin behind the main house. He was told that slaves had never lived there – it had been a doctor’s office. He said it was “the previous owner’s decision to market the building as the place where slaves once slept.” Hauser, who is White, said he “strongly opposed” the previous owner’s decision.

“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 am not interested in making money off slavery. I also apologize for insulting African Americans whose ancestors were slaves,” he said in a statement.

Hauser said he’ll provide guests with a “historically accurate portrayal of life” of The Belmont’s history, its original owners and the 80 or so slaves they purchased “who had no control over their own lives.” He also vowed to find experts to learn more about everyone who passed through The Belmont, including enslaved people or free people of color.

“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,” Hauser said.

Airbnb said that they’re working with experts to develop new policies to address other properties associated with slavery. They added they plan on “removing listings that are known to include former slave quarters in the United States.” According to Mic, several other properties in Louisiana and Georgia were advertised as quarters for enslaved people. However, clicking on each link shows they have since all been removed from Airbnb’s website.

Slavery is an embarrassment in our history. It’s the painful injury that the descendants of those who were enslaved still live with, while the rest of the country tries to pretend the hurt isn’t there anymore, simply because THEY’RE not hurting. To try to profit from the lives of slaves is pretty despicable. Airbnb is doing the right thing this time.

Feature Photo: Airbnb

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