Genealogy site Ancestry.com has apologized and removed an ad featuring a pre-Civil War interracial couple after critics slammed the spot, claiming it whitewashed the widespread sexual exploitation of slave women.
“We very much appreciate the feedback we have received and apologize for any offense that the ad may have caused,” Ancestry.com spokeswoman Gina Spatafore wrote in an email, adding that the spot had been removed from YouTube and was in the process of being pulled from TV stations.
The offending commercial shows a lovestruck white man promising his black lady-love that “there’s a place we can be together, across the border” (presumably Canada, since the web address given at the end of the ad is Ancestry.ca, not Ancestry.com). The woodenly-acted scene fades into a marriage certificate dated 1857, six years before slavery was abolished in the US. While the spot reportedly played without incident on Utah TV stations earlier this month, the backlash hit this week, when the clip went viral on social media.
Many pointed out that sexual exploitation of black slave women by white men – including but not limited to their masters – was epidemic in the antebellum South.