|“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” |
|Moving to the US was an adventure I eagerly anticipated. I had lived in 5 different countries since leaving my beloved homeland of Jamaica. But what appealed to me most about living in the US was really not much different from what appealed to the great grandparents of so many Americans – the pursuit of the “American Dream”. If you work hard, as the saying goes, you can make it anywhere in the US because this is the land of opportunity for all. In many of the places where I have lived, this expectation simply did not exist. |
The recent renewed focus on racial tensions – and the timing of my own discriminatory treatment by a Westchester County real estate agent which occurred so close to July 4th celebrations – have given me reason to reflect intensely on what the American Dream truly means. There is no denying that the American Dream has eluded too many to number – not from a lack of hard work, but so often simply by accident of birth.
There is a lot of debate as to whether racism is systemic in our society. Irrespective of how one feels about our system as a whole, I can say without hesitation that racism is certainly alive and well in the real estate industry in New York. I commend the high profile efforts of the State of New York and various Realtor® associations to address this curse upon my chosen profession. However, the problem of racism does not belong to any one industry, nor is it even just a “political” issue. It is a human rights problem that has made its way deep into the fabric of certain segments of American society. Imposing sanctions upon those engaged in improper conduct is only a start.
I still believe in the American Dream. But let us be cautious that in pursuit of the fruits of our American Dream, we do not ignore glaring prejudices all around us, which make our shared dream an illusion for too many fellow Americans.
Our challenge on this 4th of July holiday weekend: as we celebrate with friends and families, let us make a conscious decision to deeply consider what role we can and should play in confronting in our daily lives all forms of discrimination.
Wishing you a happy, meaningful 4th of July.