Racialsm versus racialization

Racism: Acting, thinking, or speaking of someone based upon a stereotyped perception of their race, ethnicity, or identity.

Racialization: Practices that cause racial division and isolation that are often:
1. Embedded in the normal operations of institutions and social systems
2. Covert in nature (the purpose and the effect of the practice are not obvioius)
3. devoid of racial terminology or tones
4. Almost always invisible to a majority of people in a given culture.

Although there is much in the news regarding racism, I find that very little is offered on the more pervasive, and may I suggest, more powerful effects of racializing practices. Racializing practices are things that "we" all do that are not intended to cause racial isolation or inequitable treatment, but none the less have that effect. These are things that are done by Blacks, Whites, Latino, and Asians all the time, but we do not take the time to look at the ramifications because they are not as overtly malicious as those who have racist sentimentalities.

So, here is my confession in which I need your comments regarding. I am in the middle of a very racializing practice that I really didn't see until recently. Here the story:

My wife and I decided to sell our home to move to a neighborhood that is closer to the church we pastor and the schools our children attend. When chosing a realtor, I chose a realtor with a fantastic selling record. She is very professional and has wonderful connections into the market for the type of home that we are selling. We met with her, based upon her credentials, and hired her based upon that. We did not look at her race, gender, or religious background at all. Many would applaud that as being colorblind and we went into the arrangement with the goal of effectiveness, not to make a cultural statement.

One week after we hired our realtor, we had lunch with a friend in the education business, who formerly had a successful stint in real estate. She happens to be of Puerto Rican heritage and she shared her story of how difficult it is for realtor's of color to represent houses at or above the mean housing price in the Rochester, NY community. She went on to talk about how listings are often obtained through social connections, and because of the fact that people of color are over-represented in poorer areas, Black and Latin realtors often list the inexpensive homes. The reason that this leads to inequity is that mobility in the real estate companies is often based upon the amount of money you make, not the number of homes you sell. So, a realtor may need to sell ten $50,000 homes to equal the profit of a single $500,000 home. The result is that those who have connections and the more lucrative and prestigious listings perpetuate their positions of power, while effectively keeping the other realtors from getting into the market.

So, by chosing a realtor who already had the connections (power seller), I not only chose an effective seller, but I helped those in a powerful position to maintain their position. But wait, you could argue that a salesperson who is not accustomed to the market where our home resides may not be near as effective as the powerselling realtor we chose. I agree, but what I am struggling with is whether I had a responsibility to reduce the racialization that is occuring in thise particular market. Again, this is not racism, as much as its becoming aware of practices that lead to continue racial inequity and isolation.

What would you have done? Leave a comment and bless the cyberworld.

May God bless you all,

Pastor M Traylor
Dr. M Traylor1 Comment