I’m not saying that you discriminate, that you are biased, that you are a racist or that you have the tendency to live life by the four P’s—preconception, prejudgment, predisposition, and partiality—which are all synonyms for prejudice. Would it be fair to say that you aren’t intentionally inclusive?
“Inclusion has to be intentional. When you are raised in a predominately one race community, that community becomes your world and it excludes others.” –Marki Lemons-Ryhal
There isn’t any room in real estate for discriminatory practices. Colin Powell stated, “Create a tone where we can start talking to each other.” Let’s talk!
Change can be the result of you facing your truth. My name is Mark Lemons-Ryhal; I’m a proud Chicago 5th generation entrepreneur. My family owns one of Chicago’s oldest restaurants. I come from a family of a handful of self-made millionaires, I attended private school, I lived in Europe as a teenager, and I’m third-generation advanced degrees. Everything I needed and wanted was provided, and my world did not include non-African Americans. It wasn’t until 2002 when I went to work for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals that I realized I wasn’t prejudiced, but I wasn’t inclusive either.
Until 2002 most of my friends looked like me, but in varying shades. Yes, they were all African American with similar backgrounds, with the exception of my Icelandic family and friends. Why? Because it is easy and comfortable to do what you have always done. It is easier to sit with your friends and catch up versus sparking a conversation with a person you have never met if you can’t visually identify that you have anything in common.
The American dream of home-ownership is deferred by some and virtually impossible for others due to the existence of discrimination. Is discrimination the issue, or is there a lack of intentional inclusion?
Colin Powell remembers buying his first home with a VA loan with $20 down because REALTORS® provide houses to put homes in.
I had to become uncomfortable and implement intentional inclusion. Today my friends and sphere of influence represent the world we live in. Recently I had a person of color question my “blackness” because of the diversity of my friends and business associates.
On September 24, 2016, I received the following message from a Facebook friend: “I’ve been a follower for a bit and would like your insight on an interview I saw recently. I feel a REALTOR® in Ohio has made several racist remarks to the media and in the interview mentioned she is ‘in real estate.’ I was appalled at what she said, and felt she should be reported. (To whom, and exactly why I’m unsure.) Are you willing to have me send the link to the interview to you for your opinion? I don’t go looking for trouble, but her statements are so disturbing”.
It took me about a week to review the link that was attached, and instantly I felt insulted by remarks like:
- “There was ‘no racism’ during the 1960s, and said black people who have not succeeded over the past half-century only have themselves to blame.”
- “Black Lives Matter movement is a stupid waste of time.”
- “You’ve had the same schools everybody else went to. You had benefits to go to college that white kids didn’t have. You had all the advantages and didn’t take advantage of it. It’s not our fault, certainly.”
First, just because you are in real estate does not mean you are licensed, and if you are licensed that does not mean you are a REALTOR® member. However, the person who made the statements is a REALTOR® member.
“Although we’ve come a long way from blatant, in-your-face housing injustice, racial discrimination still exists,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.
A report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows that real estate and leasing agents do not show minority home-buyers and renters as many available properties as they do to white customers.
To make matters even worse, Facebook allows you to exclude users by race.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 makes it illegal “to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” As of April 28, 2014, the maximum civil penalty for a first fair housing violation has increased from $55,000 to $75,000, and for subsequent violations, the new maximum is $150,000.
As a real estate professional, you should treat all people as treasured assets.
REALTORS® pledge themselves to follow the licensing rules and regulations of the state they are licensed in, Fair Housing, and the REALTORS® Code of Ethics. It is time to IMPROVE the standards of our calling and be intentional about being of service to all because, REALTORS® can really sell houses fast now.