Approximately 10 days ago, we sent a message to our client community about the importance of educating ourselves on how to better take a stand against racism of any kind.

While my husband Rajiv and I have many conversations on issues of inclusion, race and diversity with our 12-year-old son at home along with our two adult daughters, I was thinking about how we can make an impact when it comes to the business we are in. The housing market impacts every single person in the city. Everyone needs a roof over their heads.

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Having a racially diverse team does not automatically absolve us from calling out acts of a racist nature.

In real estate, one area that has seen implied and sometimes even express racism is leasing. As a leading Re/Max real estate team in the GTA, we have the ability to offer leasing services to both landlords and tenants. While not common, and not any of our own clients, we hear stories of landlords weeding out applications based on names and ethnicity.

While we understand that people gravitate towards familiarity, it can no longer be a reason or basis to disqualify other equally qualified candidates. This seems to ring true for job hiring as well but being qualified to speak as a Realtor, I will limit my comments to real estate.

A step in the right direction for the team, the industry and our city is to ensure that we call out any client that voices hesitation to work with any tenant based on race alone with no regard to the merit of the application.

I will go a step further to say that Team Rajpal would not work with anyone who deems it okay to share their “preferences” with the team, but not before having an open conversation to hopefully change the inbuilt prejudice that many times people don’t realize exists.

This is not to create divisiveness. On the contrary, starting conversations is a great step forward in peeling away layers of inbuilt biases against or for certain races.

It’s not perfect. And it’s just one aspect of the business. But it’s a start and we will continue to look for opportunities within the industry to collaborate and partner with other Realtors and the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board to encourage change at this level of real estate activity.

Renting a property is the first experience in real estate a potential future buyer will have. The players may be different when leasing, buying or selling but the playing field is still real estate.

I would invite fellow Realtors to have an open discussion around this conversation. We can all learn from each other. Because I am certainly no expert and am looking for ways to improve as a mentor to our team, an example for new Realtors and a spokesperson for clients.

13 COMMENTS

  1. What we are really talking about here is discrimination. Regarding the leasing issue: Any property owner has the sole discretion regarding to whom he/she will lease a property. The law has no say whatsoever regarding to whom a property ‘must’ be leased. A property owner gets to choose whom he/she believes will best pay the rent, honour the other contract obligations and generally cause the least amount of trouble during the term of the lease. Period. Therefore, a property owner seeking to lease out his/her property must of necessity use discretion (discriminate) when deciding to whom to enter into a lease contract with. To fail to do so would invite disaster, financially speaking, not to mention the psychological implications of watching one’s investment deteriorate. Therefore, the use of discrimination is a must when dealing with people in a business relationship. What one must avoid, however, is blatantly using a racist reason, above all else, for denying one of another skin colour etc. access to one’s property…which can be proven to be so by the relevant overseeing authority should a complaint be filed. We all discriminate in all aspects of our lives…if we are smart. That’s what brains are for. If we claim that we do not discriminate, we are liars. That goes for all humans. It is how we handle it that counts.

    Affirmative action is actually an insult to the very people it is supposedly enacted to help. Its premise assumes that certain skin-coloured people are actually incapable of getting ahead, or even on par with others, all else being equal, without government supplied training wheels, aka negative legislation (levelling). It is also a reverse racist action against those supposedly using racism across the board—all whites in general, according to our left-wing professors and the B.L.M. generals—who are also applying for a position etc. in competition with every other candidate out there, whatever their skin colour(s), when in fact the competition nowadays just might be rigged as it was by some actual white racists against non-whites. One rigging does not justify an opposing rigging. It only weakens the beneficiary and foments anger against the beneficiary, just like the old days—only now in reverse. Some might think that to be poetic justice, but there is no justice in a reverse-rigged system, no matter the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries learn that they are indeed judged to be incapable, to be inferior, by the very organization deemed to be in their corner…the government bureaucrats who steer the elected officials for whom do-gooderism from on high gives them their high, allowing them to smugly feel superior to the rest of us racist peons…as they see it. This is known as bigotry.

    The best potion to combat racism is to be aware of our personal feelings about others as they insidiously percolate to the surface for whatever reason, stop, think about it, and act accordingly…that is if we are not genuinely racist to the core via our family history and like-minded friendships. Imitation is the most perfect form of flattery. Act accordingly, and other free-thinking beings will invariably imitate your behaviour more often than not. But remember, there will always be racism amongst the greater population, no matter what skin colour one might be, because it is an endemic part of human nature. Just resolve not to give in to it, and ignore the official virtue signalers; they are fakes.

  2. 2 stories:
    1 Where my husband used to work there was a black guy who kept on bragging to his coworkers that no matter what he does he cannot be fired because he will scream racism. Employers are aware of that.
    2 My husband’s friend has a rental property with 2 apartments. He had a black applicant that I insisted that he rents to her. It is the only tenant that he had problems with continuously. She did not pay rent and in the end she moved out in the middle of the night. I felt very guilty for recommending her. Landlords are aware of that too.
    I am not saying that all black people are like that. There are successful black people but there is a stereotype (not because of skin color) but because of culturally who they are, depending what background they come from.
    There is also discrimination against white people too when renting (depending what background they come from) so do not make it like it is just colored people problem.
    So the issue is not that simple, black and white (no pun intended) as you make it to be.
    Good video https://www.facebook.com/mediaresearchcenter/videos/292609895461182/?t=8 Listen to what some of the most famous African Americans have to say about race relations and their thoughts on dealing with racism.

  3. Again, for immigrants who maybe don’t know Canadian history; this story specifically regarding real estate property rights was in the CBC news.

    Carolyne L ?

    ===

    Black N.S. man was unfairly denied title to land settled by his family in 1913, court rules
    A Black Nova Scotia man is one step closer to finally owning the property his family has lived on for more than a hundred years after the province’s Supreme Court ruled that systemic racism played a part in keeping the title to the land out of his hands.

    Read in CBC News: https://apple.news/ArqKyZTV_TiWhFp2eVdP8ww

    Shared from Apple News

    • A different kind of diaspora… this news article might support the notion that Canadians in general don’t know much if anything at all about “Acadian/Canadian” history …
      maybe the topic is too tender to be addressed in current school textbooks?

      If children are not taught their own categorical history, history has a way of repeating itself. In some parts of the world everything old is new again – or never ever changed.

      Many of the Acadians ended up on the southern east coast of the US attested to in the history of New Orleans and Atlanta among others.

      Google has many interesting history-related articles, some real estate related regarding property rights.

      Carolyne L ?

      ===

      Researcher unearths dark family history about slavery in Nova Scotia

      https://ca.news.yahoo.com/researcher-unearths-dark-family-history-090000813.html

  4. Dear Geeta,

    A very well written Article
    On Racism and this piece
    Of Article is fit to appeare in Toronto
    Star or Globe and Mail.

    As the saying goes the
    Bearer knows where the shoe pinches
    And this is an Age old problem
    Product of Centuries mindsets
    Still lingering in 2020 and needs
    To be eradicated like Covid 19
    World over.

  5. Hey Geeta

    I experience this first hand roughly 4-5 times a year. Would be happy to be apart of the action to create change. I have a few ideas so please feel free to contact me.

  6. I would say, go one step further: Make a statement as to your stand on racism, discrimination and injustice. Posted on Social media and let others know where you’re at regarding these issues.

    • Thanks Graciela. You are absolutely right. I have made my position clear on social media. What a powerful medium and there is power in numbers.

  7. Thanks, Geeta. Racism is an issue that is everywhere. I hear it sadly everyday. Happily I do not hear it from younger realtors. But I hear it a LOT from boomer realtors (not all but some). Keeping one’s mouth shut is acceptance. Thank you for getting the ball rolling here.

    • Thanks Juliana. To be honest, I have my girls to thank many of the conversations- they are 23 and 25 and explained that not being racist is not the same as being anti racist. And keeping quiet is not ok. The part that is on everyone is being open to unlearning – peeling off the layers of accepted norms.

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