‘They were raped, abused and murdered by white men’: Black audiences criticize new Ancestry.com ad that shows the slavery-era interracial couple in commercial for Ancestry.com has gained several viewers, but all for the wrong reason. The world’s largest DNA testing company has received heavy criticism after viewers saw their ad titled “Inseparable” which shows a slave Abigail and her love interest, a white man, who plan to run away to the North to get married.
The video ends with a voice that urges viewers to, “uncover the lost chapters of your family history with Ancestry.”
The internet went off.
See the now removed video here:
Pastor and activist, Bishop Talbert Swan tweeted, “What the hell is this @Ancestry? Why do white people insist on romanticizing my Black female ancestors experiences with white men during slavery? They were raped, abused, treated like animals, beaten, and murdered by white men. Stop with the revisions.”
Swan continued: “How much more revisionist trash will we have to endure that makes light of the realities of slavery? it’s disrespectful. It’s insulting. It’s only done to Black people. #BoycottAncestry.”
Ancestry.com replied to Swan’s criticism and tweeted, “Ancestry is committed to telling important stories from history. 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. We are in the process of pulling the ad.”
Folks on social media felt that the PR clean up wouldn’t suffice.
Swan replied back to the company saying, “Good. You should pull the ad. It was tone deaf, disrespectful, and insulting. There are plenty of stories you can tell that give an accurate depiction of the history of African Americans, many who yet seek to learn their family genealogy.”
Janina M. Jeff, a population geneticist and host of the In Those Genes podcast told her online audience that Ancestry.com failed to understand the trauma that this ad could have had on the African American population. Considering that most of us are a mixed race not because of compassionate, loving relationships, but because the rape of Black women is at the foundation of how this country was founded.
@Ancestry has yet to consider the re-victimization of Black and Brown folks from getting their ancestry results and the fact that having European ancestry which is a clear reminder of slavery and can be traumatic,” Janina tweeted.
She continued: “3. The idea that a Black woman might be reminded of the rape of her ancestors still present in her DNA through her European ancestry is never addressed by these companies or even a thought because no one who makes these decisions really understand the impact of this trauma.”
Janina also critiqued the idea of ‘only the white man can save you.’
“Stop putting a white savior in narratives, it completely reinforces the idea of whiteness is the only way Black/Brown people can survive,” she said in subsequent tweets.
Entertainment has always sought to revise history. To make slavery seem “not so bad,” and to ask African Americans to “just get over it.” But when major companies like Ancestry.com, Prada or Gucci remind us of the very racist foundation of America, it’s kind of difficult to just let it go.
Healing is what’s need. And we can be sure that White Americans haven’t done much healing either, because they keep producing tone deaf, offensive content like the Inseparable ad.
Tell us your thoughts in the comments. Do you see how this ad could be offensive? Should more care be taken when we try to recreate slavery-era scenarios for entertainment or promotion? Let’s talk about it!
Written By: Michae’ Baisden