Why Juneteenth Matters

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We feel like we’ve hit the jackpot whenever Julia Lashay Israel visits our group. As a member of the KW family for many years as an agent, broker and currently as the Head of Inclusion and Belonging, Julia always brings great insight to any conversation. In this never-before-seen interview from our Pivot: Shift Ahead vault, Julia sat down to talk about Juneteenth and what we can do today in order to make sure that everyone who we are in business with and serve have equal opportunities.
What is Juneteenth
On June 19, 1865, enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas learned that they had been freed. While they had actually been freed two years before when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, word did not get to them until a much later date. This day is now called Juneteenth and commemorates when Black Americans in Galveston learned they were free.
Originating in Texas, the holiday is now marked all over the country. Early celebrations didn’t go without obstacles as there were still threats of continued oppression and violence and included activities such as looking for lost family members they had been separated from, dining on food and listening to music that were common to the Black culture. Celebrations incorporated a sense of community, ancestry, and history and aim to honor the resiliency of Black Americans.
Challenges of the Past Still Impact the Real Estate Market Today
As real estate agents, we play a more important role that you may think in the American dream. And it goes without saying that agents and HUD have not always played a favorable role.
We may know what the Fair Housing Act is. We may be educated on the meaning of things like red lining, deed restrictions, and deed covenants. However, we may not really understand the true impact they had and how they still carry influence today. Years of previous governmental policies instilled barriers that we are still working to overcome. Communities are still impacted by the segregation of yesteryears. You may sell a home today to a first-generation Black home buyer, because their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents didn’t have the same opportunities.
There is still a disparity in home ownership between Black and White Americans – and in some states, this disparity is bigger than you’d expect. As Julia explained, 26% of Black Americans own homes in some states, whereas the White population’s home ownership in these same states is as high as 73%. That huge gap is a direct result of the long-standing hurdles that have existed.
How you Can Help
  1. Be aware of Unconscious Biases
    Unconscious biases happen even to the best of us. Create awareness in your mind about the biases that may exist that you were previously unaware of so that you can correct yourself when they arise and prevent them from occurring again.
  2. Actively Seek Out and Learn About a Broader Audience
    Commit to increasing your exposure to cultures and backgrounds you are currently unfamiliar with. This can be through attending events like local Juneteenth celebrations, adding new authors to your bookshelf, or finding a podcast that highlight historic cultural moments you’d like to learn more about. When you better understand different races, religions, cultures, politics, and backgrounds, you can relate to people better. Serve people better by actively learning about others.
  3. Recognize Differences
    People are different and have different experiences in life based on a variety of things, including race, age, gender, disabilities, and religious beliefs. See and celebrate the differences in all people.
  4. Use Consistent Business Practices
    While we must recognize that differences exist in people, we must treat everyone the same.
Remember, when we talk about diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and real estate, we are talking about all the wonderful ways that differences exist between people. When you master this idea, you become both a better human and a better agent.
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