The commercial, set in the Civil War era, features a white man asking a Black woman to escape to the North with him so they can “be together.”
By Elyse Wanshel, Huffington Post
Ancestry.com responded to backlash Thursday by pulling an ad that romanticizes race relations during the Civil War era.
The ad, released earlier this month, is titled “Inseparable” and is set in the South.
The commercial features a white man running alongside a Black woman named Abigail. The man tells Abigail that he knows of a place across the border where they can escape and be together while presenting her with a ring. As she ponders his proposal, he asks: “Will you leave with me?”
The video then cuts to a black screen featuring the text, “Without you, the story stops here.”
Though the ad is no longer available on YouTube, it can still be viewed on Twitter for the time being.
ooooh my god LMAOOO who approved this ancestry commercial??? pic.twitter.com/Isy0k4HTMA
— manny (@mannyfidel) April 18, 2019
In a statement to HuffPost, Ancestry.com said it’s in the process of pulling the ad from television.
“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.”
The ad was offensive to many. Critics pointed out that it exploits the plight of African Americans and makes light of the brutal history of slavery in the U.S.
A 2016 study on African American genomic diversity found genetic evidence to support the historical record that “white slave owners routinely fathered children with women held as slaves,” The New York Times reported.
Thomas Jefferson famously fathered six children with Sally Hemings, who is often referred to as his “mistress” even though he owned her.
People expressed their outrage over the ad on Twitter:
White man: you can’t sit here!
Rosa parks: why not?
White man: because you already have a place……in my heart.
*ancestry dot com logo with a soft fade out*
— Desus Nice (@desusnice) April 18, 2019
— Jenny Trick-or-Trout (@Jenny_Trout) April 18, 2019
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? https://t.co/s5BqnoSg9x
— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) April 18, 2019
That horrible ancestry commercial highlights why diversity in the workplace is so important. If there had been even one black person in the room that ad would have never been made, let alone approved and allowed to air
— Matt Barnsley (@MattBarnsley) April 18, 2019
I have so many questions about this @Ancestry commercial. 1) Is she his slave? 2) is this a real story? 3) is she his slave? 4) did this test well in focus groups? 5) who were in these focus groups? 6) was there no other scenario that could illuminate the value of DNA testing? https://t.co/lOBzueu3JZ
— Melissa Murray (@ProfMMurray) April 18, 2019
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. This is so trash.
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) April 18, 2019
I cannot believe that they are airing this commercial. Most "White" DNA African Americans have was from rape, sexual coercion in the pre civil war years…most decidedly non consensual. What a horrible commercial. Somebody did not think this one through.
— Steve Adams (@Nursedudesteve) April 18, 2019
One of the most troubling things about this is that Ancestry (and/or their agency) probably think this ad is "celebrating diversity."
— Amy Silvers (@A_Silvers) April 18, 2019
it is so wild both that this depiction of such a "relationship" was ever approved for public consumption *and* that they treat the North as some sort of promisedland where they will be able to live happily ever after
there were clearly no history books at this marketing meeting
— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) April 18, 2019
One of about 1,000 awful things about this commercial is it ignores the fact that for black Americans – myself included – and for others in the diaspora, DNA and documentary ancestry information is as painful and traumatic as it is illuminating. These are not love stories. https://t.co/tuTpHwmnGk
— Kimberly Atkins (@KimberlyEAtkins) April 18, 2019
@Ancestry whoever approved that new commercial where the white man tells the black woman that they can "run away together to the north" should be FIRED. This revisionist history of AAs having white lineage due to slavery ain't cute! IT WAS RAPE.
— Bre Weider (@BreWeider) April 18, 2019
This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.