FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Racism and Real Estate

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:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
Jessicah Pierre
A Revolutionary Idea to Close the Racial Wealth Divide
George Burchett
Revolutionary Journalism
Dan Bacher
U.S. Senate Confirms Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary
Nicky Reid
The Strange Success of Russiagate
Chris Gilbert
Defending Venezuela: Two Approaches
Todd Larsen
The Planetary Cost of Amazon’s Convenience
Kelly Martin
How the White House is Spinning Earth Day
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba and Venezuela: Killing Two Birds With a Stone
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Guadalcanal and Bloody Ridge, Solomon Islands
David Kattenburg
Trudeau’s Long Winter
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
Ellen Lindeen
What Does it Mean to Teach Peace?
Adewale Maye and Eileen Appelbaum
Paid Family and Medical Leave: a Bargain Even Low-Wage Workers Can Afford
Ramzy Baroud
War Versus Peace: Israel Has Decided and So Should We
Ann Garrison
Vets for Peace to Barbara Lee: Support Manning and Assange
Thomas Knapp
The Mueller Report Changed my Mind on Term Limits
Jill Richardson
Why is Going Green So Hard? Because the System Isn’t
Mallika Khanna
The Greenwashing of Earth Day
Arshad Khan
Do the Harmless Pangolins Have to Become Extinct?
Paul Armentano
Pushing Marijuana Legalization Across the Finish Line
B. R. Gowani
Surreal Realities: Pelosi, Maneka Gandhi, Pompeo, Trump
Paul Buhle
Using the Law to Build a Socialist Society
David Yearsley
Call Saul
Elliot Sperber
Ecology Over Economy 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail