SAN DIEGO (November 14, 2021) – Recent experiences of real estate agents Eric Brown and Jerry Isham and their clients shine a light on persistent hurdles facing Black Americans in the U.S. real estate market. The National Association® of Realtors welcomed both Brown and Isham today, along with a host of industry professionals and civil rights experts, for an open conversation on racism in real estate and potential actions that can be taken to address the significant, lingering issues.
Jerry Isham and his client Anthony Edwards were touring a Cincinnati-area home when they were held at gunpoint and briefly detained by local police regarding their presence at the property. The City of Cincinnati later apologized and settled with Isham and Edwards over the 2019 incident.
More recently, Eric Brown, his client, and his client's fifteen-year-old son were held at gunpoint and handcuffed by police in Michigan after a neighbor mistakenly identified the individuals for another person who had previously been found on the property unlawfully. Brown and his clients have filed a federal lawsuit claiming officers violated the civil rights of the three Black males during the August 2021 altercation.
NAR President Charlie Oppler issued a statement condemning Brown's detainment immediately after the incident became public. "Racial profiling – and the humiliation, indignity and trauma that comes with it – has no place in our country," Oppler said in that statement. "NAR's top priority is the safety and well-being of… our members as we work… every day to make the American Dream of owning a home a reality for all."
Michelle Walker, Chair of NAR's Diversity Committee, applauded Saturday's opportunity to publicly discuss the situations that Brown, Isham and countless other Black Americans all too frequently continue to face in this country.
"Most people never have an opportunity to hear candid conversations around race from people they know, trust and respect," Walker said. "These conversations provide an open platform to allow others to listen, learn and participate, and we've had countless minority agents from across the nation pour their hearts out to us. From them, we've learned so much about the challenges that our minority colleagues face simply because of their race. We can't find solutions if we aren't willing to talk about problems, but by participating in uncomfortable conversations, we can all do better together."
Among those also participating in Saturday's conversation was 2021 Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors® President-elect Harrison Beacher, who also serves as an at-large director for the DC Association of Realtors®. Beacher has taken part in a number of similar Clubhouse conversations over recent months
"The Real Talk, Race and Real Estate Clubhouse Live conversation is all about making space for Realtors® to share their experience with the hope that the folks who listen gain a little bit more perspective, understanding and empathy for what it's like to be a person of color navigating in today's real estate market.," said Beacher
"In the 10 months since we started having these conversations, we've experienced some brutally honest conversations which were difficult and emotional, but also very cathartic," continued Beacher, was also serves as a Vice-chair for the RPAC Major investor council. "Those conversations are also somewhat unique simply because there's not really been a space that allowed such candor and attracted such a diverse audience to participate. Our session today maintained that same energy, and the moderators were so excited for this conversation to have been included on the NAR conference schedule."
The National Association of Realtors® is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
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