Plantation tours are meant to educate visitors on American history — and that obviously includes the United States’ greatest shame: slavery. Surprisingly, however, people have wild notions about what a plantation tour should be, and are disappointed reality doesn’t meet those expectations. Whether through misinformation or flat-out ignorance, some visitors expect the experience to be presented through a rosy lens, glossing over the brutal aspects of plantation life. They think that slavery should take a backseat on tours, and are perturbed when guides focus on the inhumanity of the practice. Negatively reviewing a plantation tour because of an overemphasis on slavery might sound like a joke, but as the internet has proven, it’s an unfortunate reality.
Twitter user sairasameerarao posted a screenshot of one negative review left for a plantation in Louisiana. “My husband and I were extremely disappointed in this tour,” the two-star review reads. “We didn’t come to hear a lecture on how the white people treated slaves, we came to get this history of a southern plantation and get a tour of the house and grounds. The tour guide was so radical about slave treatment we felt we were being lectured and bashed about the slavery.”
This is how decent white people who tell the truth about slavery on plantations are reviewed by white people. pic.twitter.com/xiomBzPpWl
— saira rao (@sairasameerarao) 7 août 2019
Another Twitter user, posted similar screenshots of various reviews, with one reading, “[we] were subjected to a lecture aimed to instill guilt. An odd approach. House was completely empty and void of any period furnishings and grounds were equally disappointing. A rip off!”
Another, almost comically, said, “I was depressed by the time I left and questioned why anyone would want to live in South Carolina. There are too many beautiful plantations you can visit without starting out on a bummer.”
I went down the rabbit hole of reading reviews from folks that visit plantations expecting history, but wrapped in sunshine and rainbows. pic.twitter.com/rnPfrUnXbt
— Andrien 🔜 PAX West (@EscoBlades) 8 août 2019
These reviews might sound like anomalies, but unfortunately, they aren’t. Margaret Biser, who worked at a historic Southern site that included a plantation house, told Vox about her often harrowing experience as a guide. Upon finishing one tour, she said, one man came up to her and said, “Listen, I just wanted to say that dragging all this slavery stuff up again is bringing down America…You didn’t know. You’re young. But America is the greatest country in the world, and these people out there, they’d do anything to make America less great.”
While Biser admitted that most interactions with guests were positive, some were alarmingly unapologetic in their lack of empathy.
Sadly, the unsettling trend suggests that many people take tours not to learn, but to have their misguided view of the world reinforced — or to just have a Gone with the Wind experience. All tour guides can do is stick to the facts, however inconvenient, and hope people start listening.
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