Wednesday, April 29, 2015

It's Not What You Think

I'm going to tell you a little something about racism and discrimination. It's not what you think.

Today, I received a message from a prospective client. I'd been providing her with market updates and options for rental/sale sporadically for over two years, as she worked through a difficult separation from her partner. When asked whether my husband and I might be good candidates for selling their joint home, this prospective client informed me via email that her partner said,

“English is their second language and they have yet to sell the property at _____.” She told me not to take it personally.

Three years ago I was taking my oldest daughter to prospective high schools, jumping through absurd hoops, and fussing over every letter in pages-deep applications. We arrived at one 'prestigious' program for a scheduled interview and were directed to a waiting room. There were two other families waiting, too. When the interviewer came into the room and called "Lucia? Lucia Rodriguez?" she looked directly at the two brown girls with black hair, seated next to their parents.

My daughter stood and walked to the door and the woman reacted with a scowl, "Did I call you?"

To which my fair, green-eyed daughter with blonde hair responded, "Yes. I am Lucia Rodriguez."

Nearly ten years ago we were selling a two-flat in a comfortable, middle-class neighborhood. We had rehabbed it top-to-bottom, and at the height of the market, the list price was over $600000.  My husband greeted the gentleman who arrived for a showing warmly, with a handshake, and thanked him for coming. We toured him through the property, chatting, and discussing potential rents. 

When he was leaving, the man slapped my husband on the back and said, "You did a good job here, Amigo. Where are you from?"

"Chicago," my husband told him, pointedly. "You?"

Don't think you know if you don't know. These are three examples of burns every member of my family has endured, leaving scars that build over a lifetime and that do not heal no matter how one tries to apply reason and faith and patience. 

I haven't been drawn into a street to throw rocks at anyone and I don't know that I ever would. I don't and won't condone that behavior. But I have a tiny bit of understanding. I am angry, and hurt, and damaged. And being told to wait for change doesn't make me feel better. 

It's true. English is my second language. So I can kick ass in two languages. Be careful what you say. It's not what you think.

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