In 2008, Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States. After electing the first Black President, some people expected that Obama would pay their mortgage and give them free gas cards. Others used the opportunity to claim that racial prejudice was no longer possible because Americans had elected a black man as its President.
Both groups were wrong.
Obama hasn’t paid anyone’s mortgage and if you are looking for him to fill your car with gas, you will probably end up stranded on one of the expressways.
The election of Obama proved that a vast majority of voters, voting for or against Obama, did so not based on his skin but based on his promises of hope and change. There were certainly some that voted for him because he’s black and some that voted against him because he’s black. That’s just part of the process.
The bottom line is that the election did not erase racial prejudice any more than the election of George W. Bush erased prejudice against Texas politicians.
Yet, its still surprising that a homeowner in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood allegedly refused to sell his home to black comedian George Willborn. It’s 2010 not 1959, after all.
Willborn alleges, through a complaint filed by the federal government, that the homeowners agreed to a price of $1.7 million dollars but declined to sign the contract when the they found out that Willborn is black. According to some reports, the homeowners “googled” Willborn and found images of him. That’s the problem with the internet. It would have been much funnier to have Willborn show up a the closing and see the reaction he would have gotten.
So, the government claims, the homeowners backed out of the deal and didn’t sign the contract.
The problem with that is that if it is true, the homeowners are guilty of housing discrimination according to HUD. As every real estate attorney or Realtor will tell you, once your house is listed with a real estate agent, you cannot discriminate against buyers because of their race.
After the Willborns went to the feds and the complaint was filed, the homeowners agreed to sell but it was too late for George Willborn and his family.
After the initial shock of hearing that someone may have discriminated in this way in 2010, the second thought to go through most people’s mind is “1.7 million?”.
Unfortunately, the Willborns have bought another house or I would have offered to sell them mine. The only color that should matter in real estate is green and these homeowners may learn that expensive lesson in 2010.
Dennis Brennan is an attorney in Illinois and is a regular contributor for the dampfang.com