Black History Month 2021 is officially underway. Beginning in 1915, the month focuses on promoting, recognizing and celebrating the achievements of Black Americans and those of African descent. This month (and every month), Keller Williams is proud to celebrate the incredible contributions our Black associates have made across the real estate industry and world, and will do so by spotlighting their unique stories on Outfront. As Gary Keller wrote, “racial injustice persists and it is critical to not only say something, but do something.” So, we will also share information on how real estate agents can continue to advance social equity and ensure a core pillar of the KW belief system, “opportunities for all” is a reality.
At the center of our efforts to enact change are our KW Social Equity Task Force members who are working tirelessly to uproot racial disparities and lead the way in their local offices, our company and industry. We hope the members’ stories below can serve as a guiding light, both inspiring and encouraging you to take heart and action with the belief that change is possible when we actively look for opportunities to advance the lives of others. We’ve also made Black History Month graphics available to our KW associates in Designs to acknowledge and celebrate the month. Feel free to download them here.
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Tameka Tjerrell, KW Princeton
In October 2020, Tameka Tjerrell thought up a way to connect with fellow Princeton, New Jersey, Realtors who may not be able – or comfortable – with attending Social Equity Task Force town halls. As a result, the “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Resources” Facebook group was born. “Then I thought, why am I just focusing on agents? This is for everyone,” Tjerrell says. “So I decided to invite everyone who wanted to learn more about different races, cultures and experiences.”
Managed by Tjerrell, the group does not take a political stance, nor is it self-promotional. It simply encourages members to be respectful of others and share posts and experiences. “Talking about race and discrimination is a challenge for me, because these are things that I never really discussed with people outside of my own race because I did not want to have those hard conversations,” Tjerrell says. “But in order to move on and to grow, we have to have these hard conversations. As the BOLD law states, ‘No Pressure – No Diamonds,’ so I just jumped right in.”
“I’ve received multiple requests from individuals around the country asking what they can do to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Tjerrell says. Her advice is to start small, by watching a video or reading a book on a diversity, equity, and inclusion topic, and then discussing. “It is so important to ask questions and really listen to each other without judgement,” she says. “You may not necessarily agree, but be respectful.”
In celebration of Black History Month, Tjerrell is taking the month of February to showcase one influential African American historical figure every day.
Floyd Turner, KW Bucks County Central
Floyd Turner started sharing Quantum Leap with his community with the goal of empowering youth. The course, created by KW co-founder and executive chairman Gary Keller, brings life-altering questions to the front of young people’s minds, and helps them find success in any industry they choose:
- Who am I, and what do I want my life to be about?
- How will I structure my life to support this vision?
- What key relationships do I need to support me along the way?
- How will I fund my mission so I can make the greatest impact?
“It was recently brought to my attention that it is an opportunity that really benefits Black, brown, and marginalized youth,” Turner says. “The wealth-building piece that we do in Quantum Leap especially should be targeted toward this group.” The course specifically helps participants explore how they can fund their mission.
In order to get this information in front of young adults, Turner hosts quarterly Zoom calls, tapping into his sphere in order to find teens and young adults that could benefit from this knowledge. “What we’re looking to do is change mindsets in the community around wealth building: What it means and what it looks like,” he says.
Ish Kennedy, KW Ridgewood; Natalie Richards, KW NYC – Brooklyn Bay Ridge; Vanessa Kallback, KW Wayne
In the New York tri-state area, Ish Kennedy saw a partnership opportunity with Project Destined, a social impact platform that provides financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and real estate training to empower a new generation of Black and minority youth in the real estate industry. “Ish and our Community Giveback Committee found Project Destined and we decided it would be a great organization to align with because they’re already out there finding underserved youth and helping them get on a track through real estate,” says New York-Tri State regional director Michael Brand.
Kennedy and the team are working together to provide 60 students with training, networking, and internship opportunities in the residential real estate space. “Our goal is to create initiatives and programs to help our underserved communities achieve equity and shrink the wealth gap,” shares Kennedy. “Through their selection process, Project Destined is going to areas that have a need and the students that they’ve selected, they’ve already determined are highly motivated. In partnering with us, these students now have a landing spot.”
Kennedy shares that the project would not have been possible without two essential team members – Natalie Richards and Vanessa Kallback. “Natalie was responsible for bringing Project Destined to the attention of the committee,” he says. “Then, Natalie and Vanessa spearheaded the project and are the driving force behind its success. It would not have been possible without them.”
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Referring to KW agents as “Black Americans” is not only disparaging and condescending, but hurtful. While this may not have been your intent, it’s a direct reflection of the lack of diversity in KW’s leadership. Please consider making the necessary modification to this post and any other post moving forward.
Hi Jack, Thank you so much for your comment and perspective. You are absolutely right – at no point were we trying to be disparaging or hurtful. For clarification purposes, is the phrasing you are referring to the following: “Beginning in 1915, the month focuses on promoting, recognizing and celebrating the achievements of Black Americans and those of African descent”? Please note that this sentence does not refer to KW agents, but it is terminology that has been used across the country to describe Black History Month and its intent as a whole.