Slavery is just so romantic, isn’t it?
I can’t possibly think of a scenario that inspires more love, passion, and romance than a way of life that involves White people refusing to do their own work to build the country (that they regularly like to brag about) and going to other countries to find other civilizations that are living their lives and minding their own business, kidnap them, take them away from their homes and their families, separate them so that they never see each other again, beat and rape them into submission until the very thought of fighting back or trying to escape captivity is something that they will never consider, put them on the auction block to be sold to other White people so they can do all sorts of painful and seemingly neverending work on many a plantation, continue to beat, rape, and even kill them on a regular basis, and then tell their future generations that slavery was a really long time ago and that they should just get over it and stop pulling out the damn race card already, despite the fact that slavery in America didn’t officially end until 1865, and many of the practices used against Black people before the abolishment of slavery are still used today via the prison-industrial complex which sees far too many African-Americans being incarcerated at an alarming rate.
I mean, everything I just described is exactly the kind of thing that inspires poems and love songs and fan-fiction. What better example of a “bad boy meets a good girl who secretly wants to tame him and who really wants to be tamed by her as their tension slowly builds to romance and their love changes him for the better” story than one that is inspired by slavery? Take that, Pride And Prejudice! (Even though more than enough people have accurately pointed out the many reasons why P&P is and always has been more than a simple good girl-meets-bad boy love story, but the point still stands).
Yesterday, this commercial by Ancestry.com, titled “Inseparable,” went up on YouTube for the entire Internet to view. If you needed further proof that too many advertising agencies have too many White people in their boardrooms making major decisions without anyone (especially Black people) calling them out and asking “What White nonsense is this?!,” here it is for your viewing displeasure.
@Ancestry has a commercial, called Inseparable set during slavery in the south where a slave Abigail and her love interest, a white man, plan to run away to the north to get married. https://t.co/xtygcLWEew— Janina M. Jeff (@inthosegenespod) April 17, 2019
You don’t even have to ask if Black Twitter had something to say about this ad, because they did.
nobody:— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) 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
ooooh my god LMAOOO who approved this ancestry commercial??? pic.twitter.com/Isy0k4HTMA— manny (@mannyfidel) April 18, 2019
“But what if slave owners had good dick?” - Ancestry dot com https://t.co/XD0AAJtWmh— Langston Kerman (@LangstonKerman) April 19, 2019
White man: Say girl, let me bust that open.— DJ POOH (@DJPooh) April 19, 2019
Female slave: What you say?
White man: I’m referring to the chains.
Female slave: Yes lawd!
Fade to black @ancestry
White man: you can’t sit here!— Desus Nice (@desusnice) April 18, 2019
Rosa parks: why not?
White man: because you already have a place……in my heart.
*ancestry dot com logo with a soft fade out*
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
The prob w the ancestry dot com commercial isn't that it depicts an interracial relationship, it's that popular media is always filled w/ propaganda about interracial couplings being key to transcending racism—and that is anti-Black. 1/— Bree Newsome Bass (@BreeNewsome) April 19, 2019
Moreover, we know that "interracial" couplings have existed for as long as structural racism has (& before ppl were classified into races by European colonizers) and white supremacist systems simply adjust to maintain the white capitalist elite class 3/3— Bree Newsome Bass (@BreeNewsome) April 19, 2019
I know. I have no excuse for being up or for having looked at that ad.— Bree Newsome Bass (@BreeNewsome) April 19, 2019
For those of you wondering about the reference to director Amma Asante, she directed
the film Where Hands Touch , starring Amandla Stenberg as a young Black girl who finds herself attracted to a young White man, who is also a Nazi. I would include the infamous scene from the film in which both characters are talking to each other about jazz in the soft-lit woods and Amandla refers to it as “nigger music” as a way of calling out his racism, but after several days of Where Hands Touch and everything about it being dragged by Black Twitter, the film’s production company had the video of the scene removed from Twitter.
That film, as well as the recent Netflix series Siempre Bruja (Always A Witch), which focuses on an Afro-Latinx woman who makes a deal with an imprisoned wizard to travel from 17th century Colombia to present-day Colombia to escape being burned at the stake, and then uses her own sorcery while fighting to be reunited with her lover, who is the son of the slave owner that kept her in captivity, left many infuriated that too many creatives in the film, television, and publishing industries can look at real-life horrors like slavery and the Holocaust and immediately think: “What a great angle for my fictional love story. Have someone committing the worst atrocities known to humankind fall in love with someone suffering those same atrocities. It’s genius and it will be my way of showing viewers and readers that there’s only one race…and that’s the human race!” While also ignoring that anything that could, would, and did happen between a Nazi and a prisoner in a concentration camp, a slave owner and a slave, or a corrections officer and an inmate is in no way consensual, and is actually rape. Because sex between two partners requires not just consent, but enthusiastic content, and it’s rather difficult to receive that when the person who you are about to rape is someone held in captivity by you and is forced to consider the painful and even fatal possibilities of what could happen if he or she says “no.”
As was expected, because a major corporation getting dragged for hours by Black Twitter is not something that can be ignored, Dan, Ancestry pulled the ad and offered up their best hastily typed apology for this unfortunate and easily avoidable error. And I’ll just pretend that the word “backlash” spelled as “blacklash” in CNN’s link was just an innocent Freudian slip on their part.
“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.”
Well then…that settles it. Case closed. Now that this clusterfuck is behind them, we can focus on Ancestry.com for other and better reasons.
Like the fact that Ancestry, 23andMe, and other companies that collect DNA to help their customers learn more about their genealogy are actually giving the blood and DNA they collect to pharmaceutical companies and law-enforcement agencies for reasons other than helping people learn more about their family history.
But hey, if you don’t feel like focusing on that, you can always focus your attention on reading more fiction about healthy and unproblematic relationships instead.
Header Image Source: Netflix