Written by Nicole
An interracial couple made the news this week after having their house under-appraised to the tune of $135,000. The first appraisal took place when there was “visible blackness” in the house, such as pictures featuring black loved ones, and black art. After getting lowballed, the wife, who was black, removed all traces of blackness from the home for a second appraisal. Then her white husband attended the appraisal without his wife and son home. The second time, their house was appraised for $465,000, up from the previous $330,000.
There are many lessons to learn here.
If your first response is to say how unfair this situation is, and rail against the system and injustices that allow such malignancies to be common place, this blog might not be for you. You’re not wrong, mind you. However, my opinion may ruffle some feathers.
I personally am not saying to abandon your blackness. To be honest, with how many times my own Black Card has been taken away, I’m surprised I’m not just a pink sack of organs at this point. However, in this ecosystem, that is the hand we are dealt. And since we are aware of some of these prejudices, we need to maneuver around them to win. Is it fair that as black women have to essentially hide and shrink ourselves? Not in the slightest.
However, are you willing to part with potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars “for the culture”? I know I’m not. The momentary inconvenience of deblackifying a house or business is worth the future benefits. No amount of name calling will change that. I would be a fool to part with money for loyalty to a culture that not only denigrates my image daily, but has not built a society to counteract the current one, where losing money, opportunity etc. because of my blackness was so commonplace. White folks are not going to part with their privilege for your comfort or benefit, no matter how much they post black squares on social media. So, we must then move accordingly.
Speaking of privilege, while white privilege might be the most far reaching and insidious privilege, we all have privileges we can, and should exploit. Pretty privilege, thin privilege, smart privilege, education privilege, nepotism privilege, and so on. Black folks are so used to not being the beneficiaries of privilege, that when a black woman in particular uses a privilege in her arsenal to her benefit, she is called uppity, accused of “thinking she’s better than” or wanting to be white. If wanting to win at life and using the privileges I have at my disposal to do so is equated with being white, I guess my black ass is porcelain.
With that said, here are some tips:
Comedian Louis CK once joked about having the ultimate privilege – being not just white, but white and male. To quote a part of his act, he said and another “I’m white…which, thank God for that shit, boy. That is a huge leg up.” Many a truth are told in jest, as the saying goes. So, for black women who are partnered with nonblack men, USE HIS PRIVILEGE. You’re going to get called a bedwench and race traitor and all the rest of it anyway, so make the most of his privilege, for yourself, and your bloodline! You don’t need the entire cadre of nonblack manhood to lay down their arms and worship the ground you walk on – only one can get the job done, if he meets your requirements. What is the point of making your way into a functioning patriarchy and not reaping those benefits, plus tax?!
Every so often you’ll hear a news story of the eclectic home owner who can’t sell their house because they’ve turned it into a life-size Barbie dream house or recreated some kitschy television show in their front garden. Obviously, that is an extreme example. If you are hoping to sell your property in the future, if it is blackity black then sadly, expect to pay the cost of that. You might face similar challenges if you had hot pink walls and a matching life-size Barbie and Skipper bathtub. Mortgage lenders and potential buyers do not care about how unfair that is to you.
Not to mention, potential buyers don’t care or want so see evidence of current owners all on display. They want to imagine themselves in that space. And why would you even want people traipsing through your house to know who lives there? People are crazy, they’re already in your house, the less information you divulge, the better. And if this may be a struggle for you, look into getting your house professionally staged instead.
On a somewhat related note, it would behoove black women to keep their businesses race-neutral as well, especially if it is an online business. If your product or service can be provided to anyone, anywhere, you may find that having a faceless portfolio might bolster your sales.
Of all the points listed, I believe this one is the most important. We as black women should be able to navigate the world just like any other race of woman. However, we can’t. As much as I hate this turn of phrase, “it is what it is”. We have probably heard the saying of having to work twice as hard to have half as much. But despite this, we INSIST on playing the game using rules no one else is adhering to, to our detriment. So, if that means having a white male friend pose as your partner during your next business venture, removing your face from your online lash and nail supply store, or using a more “palatable” (read: white-sounding) name rather than the one on your birth certificate to get investors interested, that’s not necessarily abandoning yourself, it’s playing to win. Short term pain, long term gain.
What happened to this couple is wrong on all counts. Nor is it fair. But it doesn’t matter how fair it is. The people that hold the power make the rules. As such, racist appraisals have been sanctioned by the people in power, and this is one of the many drawbacks.
In this world, being black can indeed be costly. So, use whatever privilege at your disposal to balance the scales. The fairness of that reality is irrelevant. To use another trite cliché, lift ain’t fair. With that in mind, the one color that all races respect, is green. Use that knowledge and play the game to win accordingly.
What tips would you recommend for black women navigating the world of business or home-ownership? Share your knowledge and experiences below!
Disclaimer: This blog was written by me, Nicole, and my ideas are not necessarily reflective of Christelyn Karazin or other writers on this platform.