What do Jonathan Majors, Bill Ackman, and Abrazo Homes have in common? All three have recently co-opted Black historical figures and used their names in vain. To paraphrase Will Smith during the 2022 Academy Awards, keep our heroes’ names out of your mouths.
In the latest atrocity, design firm Abrazo Homes named one of their designs for an adobe-style ranch house just outside of Albuquerque, NM after Harriet Tubman. Yes, the woman who helped thousands of enslaved Black people escape who was known as the “conductor” of the Underground Railroad.
The Zillow home listing stated “Just like Harriet Tubman, the icon of American courage and freedom, this home stands out amongst the crowd.” The listing also pointed out the “‘entertainers’ kitchen with a bar top between the kitchen and the great room.”
As The New York Times aptly pointed out, “the person for whom the design is named probably never stepped foot in New Mexico at all.”
The firm seemingly recognized the snafu after their layout raised eyebrows. They deleted the listing, but since everything on the internet lives on forever, you can view the original posting here, courtesy of the Wayback Machine.
“By Monday, the listing had garnered nearly 80,000 page views – more than triple the views of similar properties in the area,” writes The Daily Mail.
The backlash was immediate, with people swiftly criticizing the homebuilding company.
One person wryly noted “this is why you hire a real copywriter.”
Of note, many of the floor plans for Abrazo Homes do have listing names such as The Marion, The Stout, and The IPA.
But the audacity didn’t stop with The Harriett. The company also named another design after Anne Frank, the World War II heroine who hid from the Nazis before she was killed at a concentration camp.
The now edited description read, “In her diary, Anne Frank discussed her view of the seasonally changing tree…In honor of her, we have designed our Anne plan to maximize the view, we feel would be suitable for Anne herself.”
One of the co-founders of Abrazo Homes, Brian McCarthy, told The New York Times that they “decided to name floor plans after influential women when it was founded 14 years ago to ‘acknowledge their place in history.’”
“We recognize that the language used in the plan description is insufficient and understand how it might come across as insensitive and lacking awareness,” McCarthy continued, adding “[i]t’s unfortunate that this oversight has diminished our sincere efforts to pay homage to some of the most remarkable women in history.”