On Feb. 10, a Twitter user named Em posted a video of Beach City Brokers agent Michael “Mike” Dalcin insulting her as she was walking near the intersection of Montana Avenue and Bundy Drive in Los Angeles’ Brentwood neighborhood.
“No one’s going to pay attention to you because you’re dumb, and you’re a stupid, blue Asian-haired girl,” Dalcin can be heard saying in the video before repeatedly swearing and holding up his middle finger at the woman.
Anti-Asian hate incidents have surged during the pandemic, and this attack comes just weeks after several crimes against senior citizens in California and New York.
As the video went viral, Dalcin was identified as an agent who worked for Beach City Brokers, a Redondo Beach real estate agency. On February 12, Beach City Brokers released a statement saying that it was aware of the video circulating on social media and “effective immediately, Mike Dalcin has been removed as an agent from our office and is no longer an agent at our Company.”
According to the brokerage, Dalcin had just been hired as an agent on Feb. 1 and had not yet had a chance to work with any clients.
By Feb. 16, the brokerage had been overwhelmed by comments praising its decision and denouncing the attack, with the occasional comment criticizing it as too harsh.
“Beach City Brokers is a small family business inclusive of all individuals we encounter who are interested in real estate,” Beach City Brokerage said in the second statement. “We are doing our best to put forth even stricter guidelines for hiring practices to ensure this does not happen again. Please contact us, if you wish to discuss further.”
The conversation around racism in the real estate industry has reached a crescendo last summer in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing protests against police brutality across the country. Multiple brokerages took steps to crack down on instances of racism and discrimination among agents while, in November, the National Association of Realtors made a public apology about past policies that led to housing discrimination against communities of color across the country.
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“If we end up with Realtors who become late night keyboard bigots saying it’s outside the confines of the real estate transaction and those get shared and those go viral, ladies and gentlemen, that — for that news cycle — that becomes who we are,” chair of the Professional Standards Committee Matt Difanis said in a NAR debate on changing its code of ethics in November.
The attack against the Brentwood woman comes on the heels of several violent attacks against Asian and Asian-American senior citizens: In late January, an 84-year-old man from Thailand died after being attacked on a morning walk in San Francisco, and days later, a 91-year-old Asian man was shoved to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown. Two more attacks occurred in Manhattan and San Jose on Feb. 3.
Advocates say that the coronavirus pandemic has led to a rise in anti-Asian racism in western countries; the recent attacks have also heightened the conversation about needing bystanders to speak up and denounce such instances of abuse in one’s daily life.
“As a south-Asian woman, I say thank you,” Hummi Siddiqui wrote on the Facebook post announcing Dalcin’s firing. “This is a nightmare and if it were me, and I had kids with me, I just can’t even fathom the trauma they would have gone through witnessing such random hate.”