At-home DNA testing company Ancestry.com has removed a controversial ad depicting a slavery-era love story amid widespread backlash from critics who accused the company of peddling a whitewashed, revisionist history of slavery in the U.S.
The ad, titled “Inseparable,” shows a white man romantically pursuing a Black woman in what appears to be the antebellum South. The “lovers” runs hand-in-hand through the streets, seemingly trying to go unnoticed.
“Abigail,” the man says, pulling a ring from his pocket. “We can escape to the North. There’s a place we can be together, across the border.”
He asks her to leave with him before the screen fades to black.
The 30-second spot, posted to Ancestry’s YouTube channel on April 2, was subsequently pulled after receiving a torrent of criticism on social media, according to Buzzfeed News, which first reported the controversy.
The company, which is among the top at-home DNA testing companies for people looking to explore their family history, has since apologized for what many have called a tone-deaf take on slavery in the U.S.
“Ancestry is committed to telling important stories from history,” it said in a statement. “This ad was intended to represent one of those stories. We very much appreciate the feedback we’ve received and apologize for any offense that the ad may have caused.”
Still, many took issue with the story Ancestry was attempting to tell and slammed the company for downplaying the horrors of slavery. What the company tried to posit as “romance” was, in reality, the rapes of enslaved Black women by their slave masters during that time.
Critics wasted no time taking Ancestry to task for it all.
“If Ancestry.com don’t get this Harlequin romance revisionist nonsense out of here,” one Twitter user wrote.
Author Clint Smith wrote: “nobody: … ancestry.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?”
“You are literally romanticizing the surprise DNA results many black folks will get due to the rampant sexual assault of black women during slavery and Jim Crow,” another opined. “This is so trash.”
One critic commented that what was most troubling about the commercial is that “Ancestry (and/or their agency) probably think this ad is ‘celebrating diversity.’”
“What the hell is this? Bishop Talbert Swan chimed in. “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.”
As of Thursday, Ancestry had pulled the ad from its YouTube page and said it was in the process of deleting the spot from television, too.
Watch more in the video below.
ooooh my god LMAOOO who approved this ancestry commercial??? pic.twitter.com/Isy0k4HTMA
— manny (@mannyfidel) April 18, 2019