Ancestry.com has pulled an ad widely criticized for distorting and sugarcoating the brutal history of slavery.
The commercial, titled "Inseparable,' shows a young black woman dressed in a flowing cloak running down a dark alley behind a young white man who turns and proposes marriage.
“Abigail. We can escape. To the north,” the man says, holding up a ring. “There’s a place we can be together, across the border. Will you leave with me?”
The woman appears ready to accept when the scene cuts to show a marriage certificate saying the couple portrayed in the commercial legally married in Canada in 1857.
Outraged viewers were quick to blast the ad on social media.
“Ooooh my god LMAOOO who approved this ancestry commercial???” Brooklyn resident Emmanuel Ocbazghi, 27, said in a Twitter post that included a downloaded version of the commercial and quickly went viral.
“Everyone, myself included, was upset because the commercial romanticized slavery. That’s not to say this situation they presented never happened, but you have to put yourself in the shoes of a black person who’s taking an Ancestry DNA test,” Ocbazghi told the Daily News.
“If you’re a black person taking the test, and you find a white person in your family back then, the chances that relative was involved in a consensual relationship with your black relative are little to none,” he said.
“It’s really irresponsible to show this loving relationship between two people who wanted to escape slavery when the chances of that being the case for the vast majority of people are very slim. It’s far likelier that the relationship was between an owner and a slave, rather than two people who loved each other,” he said.
“What the hell is this @Ancestry? Why do white people insist on romanticizing my Black female ancestors with white men during slavery?” another critic, Bishop Talbert Swan, tweeted. “They were raped, abused treated like animals, beaten and murdered by white men. Stop with the revisions.”
Reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, known on Twitter as "Ida Bae Wells," tweeted: "While it's true that 1 in 4 black folks who test their male line through DNA end up finding a white man, it ain't because of no damn slavery love story. I'm so tired of y'all."
Ancestry.com, one of the largest DNA-testing companies, issued an apology amid the backlash and fierce criticism.
"Ancestry is committed to telling important stories from history," the statement reads.
“This ad is 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.”
Ocbazghi said Ancestry made the “right choice” by yanking the ad.
“I’m relieved they saw the backlash and decided to take it down instead of doubling down. There are other ways to make that ad with more social responsibility,” he said.