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There are many definitions of tolerance, empathy and caring. For auctioneers — and especially auctioneers in auctioneer associations — these three traits are paramount, but not prevalent quite yet.

There was a day that every auctioneer was a white male, conservative in thought, highly independent, Christian, and heterosexual. It’s now 2020 and that’s no longer the case.

There are women auctioneers, black auctioneers, gay and lesbian auctioneers, bisexual auctioneers, and virtually every other color, race, ancestry, political persuasion, religion, national origin, and lifestyle.

So in this context, what is tolerance? Tolerance is essentially empathy for others in the same group. It’s not calling people derogatory names, making sexually suggestive comments nor actions, suggesting a certain lifestyle shouldn’t be a member … and rather it should be about caring about everyone else.

Additionally, many of these non-white, non-male, non-Christian, non-conservatives have been discriminated against for centuries. They have been denied employment, credit, housing, and equal treatment, thus not receiving tolerance, empathy nor care.

Just one stark statistic shows that while blacks make up only 13% of the population, they make up 24% of police killings (and are 3 times more likely killed by police than white people.) Before you say, “Well, if they kept out of trouble … “

Study after study shows that we don’t discriminate against people because they misbehave, but those people misbehave because we discriminate against them. Discrimination isn’t the effect, but rather the cause. Unfortunately, most in these groups don’t have to misbehave at all to be treated differently.

Do black lives matter? They do and there’s no point saying “also” or “too” as the phrase itself doesn’t imply “only black lives matter.” Blacks continue to be disproportionately discriminated against every day in the United States. Right now our focus needs to be on black lives … because they certainly need to matter more than they currently do.

What’s the proper role of any organization including auctioneer associations? It would seem to me to be largely neutral in regard to these different perspectives and welcoming for subgroups to gather in order to focus — for example — on a particular religion if so desired.

Associations need clear policies on discrimination, threats, harassment, and inappropriate behavior and comments. Members should want and they deserve to know what behavior is acceptable and what behavior is not.

Further, associations need to take decisive action when members are threatened, harassed, or otherwise made to feel they don’t belong and/or don’t have equal standing with other members. Nobody’s membership grants the right to dictate the unequal treatment of other members.

Lastly, what can you do about all this? The first step is don’t be in denial. The fact you haven’t seen or been subject to any discrimination (shockingly as a white, conservative, Christian, heterosexual male … what a surprise) is no evidence systemic discrimination doesn’t exist. Secondly, take the time to research this issue, ask questions, listen …

Discrimination happens every second of every day. The very least you can do is not discriminate yourself — and you can and should advocate for policy changes that promote tolerance, empathy, caring and equal treatment throughout your entire network of friends, family, coworkers, and fellow association members.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.