FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Racism and Real Estate

by Molly Secours

Several months ago I attended the “State of the Black World Conference” in Atlanta Georgia. Among those present were black activists, politicians, scholars and clergy from around the globe. Even celebrities such as Tavis Smiley, Danny Glover and Chris Tucker made an appearance in order to raise the awareness of this important discussion.

Although I learned a great deal at the conference, I didn’t actually need to leave Nashville to be reminded that for people of a darker hue, the state of the black world hasn’t really changed in many ways.

During the many speeches at the conference I was reminded of an experience just days earlier. While searching for real estate in Nashville, I encountered a pleasant and accommodating middle-aged women who showed me some property in the Belmont area. Although I wasn’t interested in the place, she seemed eager to help me locate something more suited to my taste. She assured me that her partner managed many properties and felt confident he would have something available in the near future. She promised to have him call me as soon as possible.

Before we parted I inquired as to the location of another apartment that interested me. Leaning in close and confidential she advised me to be careful because although the area in which I was looking was close by, it was still “coming around”. As my mind and heart raced, I tried to appear as though I didn’t know what “coming around” meant.

Normally among whites this coded language is clearly understood with no explanation necessary. But I wanted to hear her say it. And she did. In a sweet maternal tone she warned me of the dangers of the neighborhood because there were still a lot of “blacks” living in the area. And she did what white people often do. She whispered the word “black” as if to protect a coveted secret.

But why whisper? Was she afraid someone would hear her who wasn’t white? Was it because black people don’t know they are black? Or was it to soften her insinuation that blacks are undesirable to live with? The only certainty is that she must have felt confident that I would understand and appreciate her warning.

The next words that came out of my mouth were unplanned and untrue. I calmly replied that the particular neighborhood she alluded to would actually work out very well for me because “I am black”. And then without flinching I maintained a steady gaze and awaited a response.

She appeared nervous and confused as the flood of caveats and explanations flowed for several minutes. She clarified that what she meant to say was that the neighborhood was changing because more full time residents were moving in and renters were moving out.

She also seemed to struggle with the data I had just given her regarding my race. Did she somehow miss any signs that would have revealed my blackness? How did she not know? Although my hair is coarse and curly my skin is rather fair. She was understandably confused.

I’m not sure why I told her I was black rather than just confronting her about the damage of such a blatantly racist statement. Maybe I figured a little white lie would have more of an impact. And that by telling her I was black she might be forced to wrestle with her conscience. She had exposed her true feelings–which she was clearly uncomfortable sharing with an unsympathetic stranger. What I most hoped is that she would reevaluate the ignorance of her words and understand the devastation inflicted upon every black person when one of us white folks perpetuates the mythology of blacks as being dangerous.

For many of the attendees at the conference, this incident sums up the state of the black world. As Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, the prominent black psychologist suggests, the best thing whites can do for non-whites is to tell them what we (whites) say when they aren’t around. This way we all know where we stand.

A few minutes later my cell phone rang and it was the real estate woman calling to let me know that she had already spoken to her partner. As it turns out, he had no available apartments and nothing coming up in the near future. I thanked her for letting me know where I stood.

Molly Secours is a writer, activist and videographer. She can be reached at mollmaud@earthlink.net

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
Jeiddy Martínez Armas
Firearm Democracy
Jill Richardson
Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students
Ralph Nader
The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law
Justin O'Hagan
Capitalism Equals Peace?
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: From the Red Sea to Nairobi
Geoff Dutton
The Company We Sadly Keep
Evan Jones
The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident
Linn Washington Jr.
Meek Moment Triggers Demands for Justice Reform
Gerry Brown
TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?
Robert Fisk
The Exile of Saad Hariri
Romana Rubeo - Ramzy Baroud
Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy
Robert J. Burrowes
Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
Chuck Collins
Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ From Corporate Tax Cuts
Ron Jacobs
Private Property Does Not Equal Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Mass Shootings, Male Toxicity and their Roots in Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
The Fordist Academic
Frank Scott
Weapons of Mass Distraction Get More Destructive
Missy Comley Beattie
Big Dick Diplomacy
Michael Doliner
Democracy, Real Life Acting and the Movies
Dan Bacher
Jerry Brown tells indigenous protesters in Bonn, ‘Let’s put you in the ground’
Winslow Myers
The Madness of Deterrence
Cesar Chelala
A Kiss is Not a Kiss: Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children
Jimmy Centeno
Garcia Meets Guayasamin: A De-Colonial Experience
Stephen Martin
When Boot Becomes Bot: Surplus Population and The Human Face.
Martin Billheimer
Homer’s Iliad, la primera nota roja
Louis Proyect
Once There Were Strong Men
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones
David Yearsley
Academics Take Flight
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail