Several cottages that once housed slaves are now available to rent out on Airbnb as chic luxury stays, drawing outrage on social media, including from a prominent TikToker.
Entertainment and civil rights attorney Wynton Yates, who uses the TikTok handle @lawyerwynton, specifically called out an Airbnb listing called “The Panther Burn Cottage @ Belmont Plantation” in Greenville, Mississippi, which has since been removed, Mic first reported.
“How is this okay in somebody’s mind to rent this out?” Yates asked on TikTok. “A place where human beings were kept as slaves.”
@lawyerwynton #airbnb this is not ok. #history #civilrights #americanhistory ♬ Blade Runner 2049 – Synthwave Goose
Before being taken down, the listing made no attempt to deny its history, outrightly stating that the cottage was once slave quarters during the 1830s prior to serving as a sharecropper cabin, and ultimately, a medical office.
Reviews of the listing were similarly tone deaf in terms of recognizing the historical significance of such a place, calling it “memorable” and “historic but elegant.”
Yates went on to point out that the luxurious condition of the cottage today largely erases the bare-bones conditions slaves would have had to endure. “Clawfoot tub, running water, tiles, nice lighting fixtures, water, towels, dresser,” he pointed out.
By contrast, slaves would have lived in the most basic quarters that frequently left them vulnerable to the elements and the spread of disease, an article on antebellum slavery by PBS states.
“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 told Mic. “To see someone just blatantly make a mockery out of it just didn’t sit right with me.”
Mic found that the slave quarters on the Bellmont Plantation were not an isolated case of former slave homes being marketed in such a way on Airbnb either. The publication found a tiny home cottage on a Georgia plantation named after a former slave who lived there, a “historically renovated” slave quarters in New Orleans and a restored and “haunted” former slave cottage in New Orleans, among others.
Yates suggested to Mic that the former slave quarters would serve a more helpful, historically sensitive purpose if they were memorialized as places where people could visit and reflect on the history of slavery, citing the Whitney Plantation outside of New Orleans as an example.