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Racism and real estate

I don’t know about you, but I have been heart sick the last week as I have watched our country mourn the killing of George Floyd. Watching the news this weekend, I remembered as a child watching L.A. go up in flames after the Rodney King beating in 1992. That was 28 years ago and here we are yet again watching our country go up in flames.

It is almost surreal at times, like I am watching a TV show. I look around my home in Prairie Village and feel guilty because I don’t see these injustices on a daily basis as others do. Honestly, I think it is more truthful to say that I ignore these injustices and hope that they will go away. But as we all know, hope is not a plan.

I am a white man living in the Midwest who has never experienced what African Americans experience each and every day. I live with a privilege and within a system that protects me from such experiences. Unfortunately, the same system does not protect my fellow Americans of color.

You may ask, what does this have to do with real estate? Well, I have a story to share.

This weekend a teammate of mine, Porsche Brown, was showing a property for one of our other team members as a favor. She had arrived early at the showing (as all good agents should) to prepare for the showing. As she sat in the driveway waiting for the buyers to arrive, Mrs. Seller walked out to Porsche’s car and tapped on the window. Porsche rolled down her window to acknowledge the homeowner. The homeowner then asked, ” I probably shouldn’t ask this, but is your client black? You see my husband is not a good man and he wanted me to ask.”

I am sure by now you have guessed that Porsche is black and that the homeowner is white. Porsche did not know the answer to the question because she was showing someone else’s client. Frankly, the answer should not matter. Porsche handled the situation professionally and with grace because she did not want to jeopardize a potential purchase for the buyer. I cannot imagine how Porsche wanted to react. I know how I reacted when Porsche shared the story with me. I cursed and yelled. I was furious. I was also embarrassed. I was embarrassed that such ignorance still exists and would be shown in such an overt way to one of our team members. I could not believe that Mrs. Seller would have the nerve to even ask such an ignorant and hateful question.

Isn’t that the problem though? We live in a country where some American’s still think that someone’s race should define them rather than what is in their heart. We categorize. We profile. WE can do better.

What happened to Porsche over the weekend pales in comparison to the murder of George Floyd. Both situations, however, are examples of “otherism” wherein a party in power chooses to exclude another or treat them as less than simply because they are different. I never met George Floyd, but I do know Porsche’s heart and she is more than, not less than. She is a brilliant person with a budding career in real estate. She is also funny as heck and takes me with a grain of salt, which is a talent. Lastly, she is inclusive and kind and it is people like Porsche who will continue to make this country a better place, slowly but surely.

Grace: the freely given, unmerited favor and love

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