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Airbnb has grown exponentially since first launching back in the late-2000s as a literal air mattress in the founders’ living room, now operating as a global entity that’s become preferred over hotel stays and the traditional bed and breakfast. Well, for the most part anyway.
The popular lodging service has come under major scrutiny recently after a handful of listings proudly boasted about being built on the grounds of former slave cabins.
“This is not okay,” exclaimed civil rights attorney Wynton Yates, who posted the original video on TikTok (seen above) that shed light on the listings in the first place. He called out a rental advertised as “The Panther Burn Cabin at Belmont Plantation” in Greenville, Mississippi, which aside from on the outside actually looking like an outhouse where slaves were once forced to live in also blatantly stated it in the description. Yates went on to also call out those who left reviews after staying a few nights — most, if not all, white people — and used words like “memorable,” “elegant” and “delightful” to describe the lodging. As Yates put it, “How is this okay in somebody’s mind to rent this out, a place where human beings were kept as slaves?”
“‘We are taking this report seriously and have deactivated all listings associated with this property as we investigate,’ an Airbnb spokesperson said in an email to Mic. Mic reached out to Belmont Plantation for comment as well, but did not receive an immediate response.
Yates tells me his brother first saw the listing and sent it to a family group chat. His first thought when he saw the picture was that it couldn’t be real; when he looked it up on Airbnb, he was flabbergasted to see that it was. ‘Growing up, [my family] would take my siblings and my cousins and I and put slave shackles in our hands so that we could feel the weight of the steel that was put on our ancestors’ bodies to contain them,’ Yates says. ‘To see someone just blatantly make a mockery out of it just didn’t sit right with me.’”
Similar listings for other properties have also been spotted, which reportedly have acknowledged the sordid history of the location but very vaguely. Yates and others who commented on his original video believe they should be advertised as historical marks instead of cool places to rent out as “luxury lodging.”
Let us know your thoughts on this: can a former slave cabin ever be refurbished as a Airbnb? Sound off!
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