The signs of “White Only” or “Negroes get your food by the back door” have long been removed. But, the vestiges of racism remain, even in 2022. It is a systemic construct that will not disappear, at least not in my lifetime. Many of us have learned to navigate the treacherous waters that are prevalent in our day to day lives. This article is a prime example and a great lesson for those who might think racism went away when President Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation or when Dr. King gave his “I have a dream speech.”
The phrase “getting the American Dream” is tossed around as an achievable aspiration. However, history and current reality remind us that preamble wasn’t necessarily meant for us; those who are African American.
In the mid-80’s several well known fortune 100 companies were gobbling up mortgage lenders to create a subsidiary business for their well-heeled clientele who might one day become mortgage customers. American Express was a key sponsor with the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. Once the games ended key staff were directed to apply for post-Olympic employment opportunities with sponsors such as American Express. At the time, I had no clue what a mortgage banker was. My background was marketing. American Express had a subsidiary called Shearson-Lehman and their mortgage banking division was taking off. I jumped at the opportunity. I quickly learned how subjective staff charged with processing and underwriting a loan were; simply based on their upbringing or their societal perspectives. Of course since then a lot has changed but people are people and it is hard to strip away their biases.
Fast-forward to the article, many still swear racism is over and everybody is treated equal. The article points to a very clear, if not painful lesson that many have to endure. Just when you think you may have “made it” it is examples like this which remind you the work must continue to go forward to break the veil of prejudice and racism.