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Commentary: The price of discrimination in real estate industry

I remember standing in the living room of our new home and the real estate agent telling my parents "The next door neighbors are moving out."

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — In the late 1990s, my parents bought a new house in East Texas. It was beautiful. A great neighborhood. It was close to my school. We loved it, but there was one problem. Some of the people who lived in that neighborhood did not want us there. 

I remember standing in the living room of our new home and the real estate agent telling my parents "The next-door neighbors are moving out."  

Why would they leave at the same time we were moving in? Was it just a coincidence?  The answer is one I will never forget. It was because we were Black. A fact that was confirmed by the next-door neighbor's real estate agent. This was a predominately white neighborhood, and for the most part, it still is to this day.  

At the time I knew it wasn't right,t but I didn't understand the magnitude of that comment until I was much older. Why would these people judge us simply by the color of our skin? They didn't know us. They never met us. 

Tuesday, we featured a story about a Jacksonville family who believes racism played a part in the low appraisal of their home. I read your comments on social media. Some of them hurt me. I understand that this appraiser could have been terrible at their job, but as a Black person, I know the price we pay for discrimination. It is real. It may not happen to you. Be thankful for that, but it is an issue I think about every day of my life. 

I can tell you everyone in our neighborhood didn't feel the same way. We had some great neighbors. I always choose to see the good in people, but I know the reality of the hatred that can live in the hearts of others.  

I called my mother Tuesday to make sure I remembered this all correctly. It was more than 20 years ago. She told me I was correct and it's an unfortunate reality that plagues all Black families.  

I sent her the article about the Jacksonville family that felt discriminated against. She simply replied, "They said the same thing I was thinking."

RELATED: 'It was gutting': Family says home's appraised value soared after they removed all traces of 'Blackness' from their home

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