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In a recent story I read regarding Bob Woodward’s book (Rage, 2020) I was not surprised, and rather disappointed (yet again) with the answer to a fairly straightforward question. Thus, my title to this treatise became, “How auctioneers can do better.”

The typical auctioneer in the United States has been a white male for as many years as there have been auctioneers here. More recently, non-white and non-male auctioneers have joined the industry.

While many auctioneers have been welcoming of these changes, some have not. Generally, these non-accepting people are those who haven’t experienced discrimination, don’t see any discrimination, and therefore don’t understand there is any issue at hand.

We wrote about [recent] systemic discrimination in housing, financing, and employment here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/06/28/auctioneers-discrimination-google/.

Plainly, it is not difficult to find (if one wants to know) that systemic discrimination has been present in this country since its founding. In fact, there are far more cases not reported than documented. The Internet, smartphone cameras and video, body cameras and the like has shed more light on this horrific longstanding problem.

Is there a first-step for auctioneers (or anyone) to better inform themselves about systemic racism and related issues involving minorities? I would offer that the initial step is recognizing there is a problem — that is, simply awareness.

‘Do you have any sense that that privilege has isolated and put you in a cave to a certain extent, as it put me and I think lots of white privileged people in a cave and that we have to work our way out of it to understand the anger and the pain, particularly, Black people feel in this country?’ Woodward asked.

‘No,’Trump responded. ‘You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you? Just listen to you. Wow. No, I don’t feel that at all.’

If you are asked as a white man or white woman if you have in essence been in a cave that you need to work yourself out of to see and understand how Black and other minorities have been treated … a better answer would be Yes, and I’m always endeavoring to better understand.”

This is because until you accept there is a problem, and commit to better understanding it, you will remain more-so part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. More people being part of the solution is what it’s going to take to help lessen system racism and discrimination in this country.

Some misguidedly argue that we treat Blacks and other minorities differently (particularly in the justice/policing systems) because of bad behavior. Actually, the so-called bad behavior is not the cause, and rather the effect.

In other words, people understandably act poorly when discriminated against, rather than what some unfortunately think is discrimination addressing a problem. Anyone discriminated against tends to resent such behavior, and if you’ve not experienced it, it can be difficult — if not impossible — to understand.

There will be more and more non-white and non-male auctioneers entering our profession. There is no better time than today for all auctioneers to welcome these [new] auctioneers and appreciate what they have likely gone through to even consider a profession largely “looking nothing like them.”

In fact, take a look at your auction crowds compared to 10, 15, 20 years ago … see more non-white non-male participants? You probably do, but the question is more-so do you want to continue to see them? Understanding — appreciating — what they have survived to arrive as a bidder at your auction will go far to better understand we have more to do.

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, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation 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.