Frank K. Major, Bright MLS CTO, sent this message to staffers amid unrest surrounding the death of George Floyd. Here, we share it for the industry.
It is painfully obvious that 2020 is off to a difficult start. While COVID-19 represents an unprecedented challenge the likes of which we haven’t experienced in a century, other prominent societal problems currently facing us have become far too commonplace.
Over the past several days, the world watched the situation unfold in Minneapolis: a black man, George Floyd, saying “I can’t breathe,” receiving no assistance, and ultimately dying in police custody. These events have torn apart a Black family and left communities around the U.S. in flames.
It also is very troubling that we do not agree on the newness, horror or even existence of this problem — which is whether our country and communities actually suffer from racism. Not only do many of us disagree on the problem, but we also disagree about the problem’s history and sources, and we certainly disagree about what constitutes an appropriate response.
These disagreements exist for many reasons, including contrasts in our backgrounds, communities and experiences. That said, despite our differences, which sometimes seem irreconcilable and insurmountable, I believe there is a shared desire for better days as a safer, more civil society, just as there is a collective eagerness for a safer public health environment post-COVID.
My personal conviction in our shared values, coupled with my strong belief that most Americans sincerely want to make a positive impact in our communities, gives me hope that each of us can and will find ways to help us get to a better place.
As a Black man and an MLS executive, I pledge to be vigilant and responsive when one of our fellow citizens reaches out and says, “I. Can’t. Breathe.” I was particularly impacted by Mark Mason’s Citibank blog in recent days, as he detailed how we can be present and impactful in our communities — both individually and collectively.
For real estate-related companies and professionals, we can make a positive impact by creating and sustaining communities that are racially, culturally, socio-economically and otherwise diverse.
For myself and other Bright MLS employees, this includes partnering with brokerages and agents to achieve our shared goal of creating a fair and equitable housing market for everyone.
By doing our individual best to reach this goal, Bright MLS employees can support the real estate industry in achieving safe, inclusive neighborhoods that thrive with equitable opportunities for everyone regardless of race, color or creed. Such communities flourish with connectedness that helps us see our fellow citizens as human with shared values and interests, rather than a threat.
As Bright’s chief technology officer (CTO), this means I must lead our product and technology teams in creating world-class MLS services that allow real estate professionals to further these ideals.
These goals, and the strategies to achieve them, are not new to real estate.
In recent history, real estate professionals and partners have led the way to create equity through integrated neighborhoods that have diverse classrooms, work and social settings for our children and families. Following landmark cases, such as Shelley v. Kraemer, forward-thinking, civically engaged real estate professionals and others have proven that diverse communities can encourage understanding, civility and compassion.
We also have proven that inclusive neighborhoods economically strengthen our communities and can provide more Americans with better access to safety, fairness, equity and opportunity.
Finally, for all business and community leaders, we must be actively engaged on these issues. This includes exhibiting leadership by deliberately seeking and creating diversity among our staff, in our boardrooms and in our social and professional circles.
For professionals of color, we have the opportunity to bring our diverse perspectives in all these settings and lead alongside our colleagues who may not share or understand our experiences. I commit to avail myself to you, my colleagues and our partners, to engage in discussions and collaborations that allow us to positively affect our communities.
In real estate, we have more power than most other sectors to create communities and opportunities for ourselves and our neighbors to have discussions, “walk the talk,” and be the positive change that leads to togetherness and overcomes divisiveness.
So, if you are troubled by any of the circumstances that unfolded concerning George Floyd and countless others, let your concerns be your call to action to be and do your very best, not just in your personal life, but especially in your professional life because as real estate professionals, we can truly make a difference.
Editor’s note: This piece has been lightly edited for style and grammar.
Frank K. Major is the chief technology officer of Bright MLS spanning over six states. Connect with him on LinkedIn.