By Sandra Lemaire
Netflix is removing an episode of the History 101 program that says AIDS originated in Haiti.
“We have seen the concerns raised and, together with the series creators, have decided to remove the episode while we review the issues involved,” a spokesperson for the online streaming service told VOA via email Saturday. Netflix offers users television shows, movies and documentaries.
History 101 is a British TV show produced by ITN productions. It is described on Netflix as “infographics and archival footage [that] deliver bite-size history lessons on scientific breakthroughs, social movements and world-changing discoveries.”
The episode sparked outrage among Haitian Americans, who posted their criticism and started a petition on Instagram and Twitter.
“The framing of the whole doc lacks in world view,” renowned Haitian American DJ Michael Brun posted on Instagram. “For a disease that has affected Africa the hardest, they had 0 scientists or representation from the continent (or Haiti).”
According to The AIDS Institute, a U.S. nonprofit organization that promotes social change, scientists attribute the HIV infection in humans to a type of chimpanzee found in West Africa.
The Haitianroom, a popular Haitian American Instagram account, circulated a petition against the Netflix program that aimed to get 16,000 signatures. By 4:30 p.m. EDT they had obtained 12,488 signatures.
“The lies are part of the reason why many of us had a hard time growing up Haitian!!!” the post said.
Lunionsuite, another popular Haitian American Instagram account that has 150,000 followers, also posted criticism about the episode. On Saturday afternoon it posted a thank-you to followers for putting pressure on the streaming company.
“Netflix History 101 Episode 9 “AIDS” [has] officially been removed by @netflix on their platform!! Thank you to everyone who came together to make this happen in less than 24 hours!! We Did It!!” the post read.
The move comes as thousands worldwide take to the streets to protest racism and to demand justice for George Floyd, an African American man who died in the custody of four police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Netflix is one of several technology, banking, apparel and entertainment firms that have issued messages of support for those demonstrating against police treatment of black people.
“To be silent is to be complicit. Black Lives Matter. We have a platform and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up,” the May 30 Netflix post said.