Ancestry.com Apologizes For A Love Ad Involving A White Man And Black Slave
Ancestry.com tried to sugar coat, cherry-on-top slavery, and it didn’t go well at all with the people.
According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, the genealogy database tried to promote their services with a commercial set in 1800s America. In the clip, a White man is depicted asking a Black woman named Abigail to “escape to the north” with him.
“Will you leave with me?” the man asks, with a ring in his hand.
Then, the ad ends with an on-screen “marriage certificate,” suggesting that the man and woman got married in Canada in 1857.
The clip made rounds on social media this week and automatically, folks became outraged over the clip’s romanticization of slavery.
A PhD candidate at Harvard, Clint Smith, tweeted:
“ancestry dot com: how can we overly romanticize & create an irresponsible, ahistorical depiction of the relationship between white men & black women during the period of chattel slavery that completely disregards its power dynamics & the trauma of sexual exploitation?”
Activist and organizer Brittany Packnett also tweeted:
“I used this service a few years ago. And when I realized I was more than 10% European, I wept. Not from shame for who I am, but from anger from the trauma of how it may have come to be. This commercial spits on the trauma in our veins and the fight of our ancestors,
Other historians, reporters, and academics also hopped on social media to call out the company’s “reprehensible” commercial.
The site eventually made a public apology on Thursday as backlash peaked:
“Ancestry is committed to telling important stories from history,” spokeswoman Gina Spatafore said in a statement. “This ad was intended to represent one of those stories. We very much appreciate the feedback we have received and apologize for any offense that the ad may have caused.”
The original video, which was first posted on YouTube has since been removed.
The history of Black women facing sexual violence from White men during slavery isn’t some baseless tale either. It’s supported by DNA evidence, according to The New York Times.
In a study they covered in 2016, a group of geneticists found in the DNA of 3,726 living African-Americans “marks of slavery’s cruelties, including further evidence that white slave owners routinely fathered children with women held as slaves.”
When they examined proportions of European DNA in the population, the scientists also realized that X chromosomes, which are inherited in higher percentages from women, had greater African ancestry than other chromosomes, suggesting that slaveowners were “raping the women they held captive.”
So yeah, you can squash the interracial love stories with slaves Ancestry.com.
Hit the flip for more commentary on the company’s misstep.