Black History Month Feature: What Black History Month (BHM) Means to Mainstreet?

This month we are celebrating the historical significance and contributions of the Black community — while also raising awareness to fight racial disparities within our industry. REALTORS® are leaders in their communities and that’s where change starts. As an association, we are committed to amplifying the voices of underrepresented communities.

Here are seven things that REALTORS® can do to support our Black communities:

Know your history

To make change, we must acknowledge how we got to where we are today. In 1926, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History declared the second week of February as “Negro History Week” to recognize the contributions of African Americans to U.S. history.  In 1976, U.S. President Gerald Ford extended the recognition to what we now know as Black History Month. The more we understand how we got here, the more adeptly we can anticipate and identify paths towards change.

Raise awareness among your fellow brokers 

One of the easiest things to do is to take a stand and not stay silent or impartial.  Education helps drive policy change. The more we understand racial disparities, the faster change can be implemented. Mainstreet’s new DE&I Resources page is a great place to find helpful information and connect ions that you can discover and share with your network.

Push for policy changes

From new zoning ordinances and loan products to new credit scoring systems and systems for measuring value in Black communities, there are plenty of ways we can rethink how our system works to be more equitable for all. To learn more about some of the key issues plan to attend Mainstreet’s Affordable Housing Summit & Expo and get involved however you can.

Identify areas for improvement

Take a step back and observe the demographics of your team or office. Do they reflect diversity and inclusivity? If not, think of how you can improve your hiring process. Start with job descriptions, how can you attract a more diverse pool of candidates? Take note of the language you are using — could it be more inclusive? Making individuals feel seen, even during the application process, could improve your promotion of fairness and equity efforts.

Support Black-owned businesses in your community

Whether you are shopping for your real estate needs or beyond, choosing a Black-owned business is a great way to help your community thrive through the creation of jobs and opportunities. Offering your business is also an important way to help close the wealth gap.

Incorporate DEI efforts within your brokerage

Implementing DEI efforts doesn’t stop in February. Think of how you can incorporate ways to create space for individuals in your office whether it’s allowing them to share their experiences in a safe space or even offering more educational resources and opportunities that explore these topics into more detail. These are ideas which can help EMPOWER your employees. Listening to understand is also the key to change and if we continue to do our part, we can create more spaces that foster diversity and inclusivity.

Get involved

Mainstreet REALTOR® Members themselves are an outstanding resource.  We actively partner with the local chapters of an array of Multicultural Real Estate Organizations — including the Dearborn Realtists (NAREB) and the Illinois Association of Black Real Estate Professionals. Connecting with these groups, and supporting their events, can be effective in engaging a more diverse membership base and expanding perspectives regarding the local real estate market.