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NAREB Talks African American Recovery - Heru-Ka Anu

The National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) hosted their national convention here in Baltimore Maryland. Little known to most is that a powerhouse has been in our midst; one currently more effective in creating African American wealth than even the efforts of the local mayor and city council or even local business leaders combined.

The NAREB presenters made it clear that most Black wealth is held in real estate, and the Black realtor had been, and continues to be, a major conduit in helping the African American community to realize said wealth; particularly in the face of race-based obstacles placed in the way by government, businesses and social practices. It was pointed out in presentations that NAREB has been successful in neutralizing race-based opposition once preventing African Americans from selling real estate, from purchasing housing, and from having access to housing anywhere in this country. The Association has a history well worth noting.

Now 67 years of age this past month, NAREB has been at the forefront in creating Black wealth and power through education and activism. Currently with hundreds of members, amounting to thousands over its historic span, NAREB's organization and activism has been a major economic force not only on behalf of the African American population, it has been so for Americans of every stripe with respect to opportunities and fair-play.

In response to the present ongoing economic crisis brought on by the corrupt banking and political systems NAREB has set its sites on addressing the tremendous economic collapse especially affecting African Americans. The loss of home ownership, the bastion of Black wealth investment, has and continues to be devastating - A reported 53% loss of wealth from African Americans. A Nielsen Company study place African American's current spending power at one-trillion dollars. Taking this report into account, one can surmise that African Americans suffered a loss of more than one-trillion dollars during the financial and housing crash. Therefore African Americans current spending power is less than half of what it should or could have been- two-trillion dollars.

The consequences of this loss is almost incomprehensible... There was great loss of home-ownership the bedrock of African wealth. This of course is and will be followed by further devastating consequences including community instability; gentrification; business loss; destabilization; underdevelopment – in self reliance; increased impoverishment; loss in education – as funded by mortgage loans; loss in tax revenue; vulnerability to economic exploitation; permanently dispossessed – i.e. permanent renters; impoverishment; increased homelessness; political disenfranchisement; economic disenfranchisement; and perpetual victims of race-based exploitation and capitalism. What is worse, no institutions or persons have been held accountable.

On The Road To Recovery?
The same group that created the foreclosure crash are the same ones now cashing in on the so-called fix.

A paradox for the Black real estate organization is the appeal to address the rebuilding of Black wealth by using the same structure and organizations that made African Americans economically vulnerable and engineered the financial collapse - in particular certain banks.

As NAREB sets out to help African Americans recover and continue forward it must tackle the pressing questions of Black dependency on outside, non-Black, institutions, especially in light of the fact said institutions, especially banks and other financial institutions – have been and are exploitative; and in many instances ,opposed to Black economic independence, and competition. One of many questions to answer is can NAREB embrace a “Black Economic” agenda that is broader than just creating Black home ownership and Black realtors to one that encompasses a broader and more secure foundation for stability and development. Knowing that the organization can only do so much, can it at least embrace a broader agenda and collaborate with other Black players to advance Black economic power?

Black realtors had a part to play in this foreclosure crisis as well, stated a NAREB member... Many of us set out to make money at all cost and pushed bad deals and bad paper on our people as well... This is one of the issues we must face... What is our responsibility with respect to the Black community?8 he asked. Here is a place where Black business goals must address their responsibility and or response to African American civil rights goals and objectives, and to the ethical questions of fairness on behalf of Black people. Is this a topic that NAREB can take on and is willing to take on?

My observations are that NAREB will struggle for a while to come as it relates to assuring there will be non-Black economic institutions in service to the Black community. As I see it somehow, the fostering of Black community empowerment through Black owned and non-predatory banks and other financial institutions need to be brought into the equation to ensure stable and continuing Black economic growth. An, easier task may be had at educating and advocating for its members to not put profit before the progress, and health and wellness of African Americans as a whole.

A few questions NAREB may want to address are: 1) What are the ethics involved in continuing relationships with those institutions that created and exploited this crisis'; 2) What structures are, or need be, put in place to stop these institutions from doing this again; 3) What protections are the Black business leaders like NAREB doing to protect the Black community and its wealth; 4) Does NAREB have a “Black Economic Agenda” that it supports? 5) Where does the power of Black people to make a difference, especially economic, reside?