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In the summer of 2022, a TikTok video of an Airbnb being promoted as an “1830s slave hut” went viral for all the wrong reasons. Now Airbnb says it is done promoting or allowing rentals in homes where enslaved people lived.
In a report Published this week with the title “A Six-Year Update on Airbnb’s Work to Fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion,” Airbnb announced its “Prohibiting the Glorification and Marketing of Slavery” policy.
“In July 2022,” the report reads, “we took a series of steps to address the list of properties in the US known to contain former slave homes. Such properties have no place on Airbnb.” The company then “immediately removed lists of former slave homes” and “began working with experts, including historic preservation architect Jobie Hill, on policies to address other U.S.-based properties and experiences associated with slavery.”
“This policy,” the report continues,
…applicable to U.S. properties include: 1) prohibiting the erection of houses or other structures on a former plantation where enslaved people lived or worked, if structures that existed during slavery ; 2) blocking any structure specifically designed to house only enslaved people and that housed enslaved people (“slave houses”); and 3) prohibiting the advertising of slavery-related features as a selling point for a stay. We are in the process of implementing this new policy and reviewing listings that may be affected…
Ben Breit of Airbnb told BuzzFeed that the company has already “removed listings and experiences associated with about 30 properties that violate our policies.”
The “1830s slave cabin” that inspired the move went viral in July. Called the Panther Burn Cottage, it is located in Greenville, Mississippi, on the grounds of the Belmont Plantation. TikToker Wynton Yates, a lawyer, drew attention to the cabin in a videosaying, “How is this okay in someone’s mind to rent this out – a place where people were held as slaves – rent this out as a bed and breakfast?”
Airbnb and the cabin’s owner apologized at the time, with the company stating that “properties that used to house the enslaved have no place on Airbnb.”