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A typical bidder in the United States at an auction in 1920 was a White male. Here in 2020, that bidder might be a white male but might not be. That bidder could easily be non-white and not a male.

That bidder’s race could be White, Black/African American, Asian, Hispanic, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or some combination of two or more of these categories.

On the other hand, that bidder’s color is something else, and refers to the visible color of that person’s skin. Such could be white, light brown, brown, dark brown, black, orange, red … or some other color.

For that matter, here in 2020 the auctioneer might not be a White male. While most in the United States are, there are auctioneers today of every race and color … and sex, ancestry and national origin.

There are those who confuse ethnicity with race. Race is more inherent considering physical traits, while ethnicity is chosen by the individual to include typically language, nationality, culture, religion, etc.

Some auctioneers have (and some have not) embraced diversity — bid calling in several languages along with terms and conditions in English, Spanish and other languages. Sotheby’s and Christie’s have posted their bid prices in various languages for decades.

In fact, there are many auction venues today that utilize auctioneers more closely matching their audiences. It seems to only make sense to have the service provider (agent) the same general ethnicity of the majority of bidders.

Online auction software should allow the the entire auction to be viewed in the bidder’s native language, including the terms and conditions, the property description, the current bid and the next bid. Maybe the question should be, “Is there a good reason to not do this?

Relatedly, auctioneer associations should accommodate — at a minimum — different races, colors, and ethnicity. There has been some movement in this area lately, but there is much more to do.

As we’ve argued over the years, a diverse younger generation is not likely to join any association not embracing diversity in race, color, ethnicity … and even thought. We as a people often aspire to be auctioneers when we “see ourselves” in others already in the business.

Our prior post from 2017 is here with more thoughts on associations and auctioneers being open to a diverse audience and fellow membership: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/diversity-in-the-auction-business-naa/.

We began to explore this topic months ago when we were contacted by a white auctioneer who had been replaced by non-white auctioneer. His claim was essentially, “reverse discrimination” in that he said he was the “better auctioneer” but was replaced because he was white.

We investigated this issue and while this white auctioneer was arguably a better bid-caller, the non-white auctioneer was a better fit — more like most of the bidders, and actually prices had, since the change, notably increased. His ascertain he was the better auctioneer wasn’t supported.

This has even been an issue for us personally. Contract auctioneer work we have done since 2009 regards a company with offices in the United States and Europe. For their auctions in England and some surrounding countries, a different auctioneer was secured due to his cadence, appearance, culture, language … essentially his ethnicity.

Discrimination is alive and [not] well in the United States. It’s not that any of us don’t see color, race, ethnicity, and the like; the goal is to provide an equal opportunity for all — noting that some people can play shortstop for the New York Yankees much better than others …

If you’re one who’s not experienced any material personal discrimination and thus don’t think it exists, we invite you to look around a bit more, including our extremely condensed list of recent cases involving racial discrimination: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/06/28/auctioneers-discrimination-google/.

For those who noticed Kamala Harris in the picture above — Kamala is a United States citizen, born in Oakland, California. Kamala’s mother is from India and her father is from British Jamaica. The vast majority of Jamaicans (including her father) are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry.

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 Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.