There’s a chance you’ve heard the recent debate about whether Realtors and home stagers should stop using the term “master bedroom,” and you may have questions. Why the change? What’s the history of the “master bedroom”? What words should I use instead?
These questions have been brought up in the real estate industry for decades, but now, the conversation is making national headlines. The origin of the term “master bedroom” is unclear. But regardless of where “master bedroom” or “master suite” came from, “master bedroom” evokes racist and sexist connotations.
Yes. Dropping the term “master bedroom” is one way to show that racism has absolutely no place in the real estate and staging industries. But better ways to demonstrate that is by ending the practice of “steering” – where Realtors guide people of color to specific communities, continuing segregation – and racial discrimination in mortgage lending.
Those are just two examples of how racism in our industries has dramatic effects on the lives and well-being of people of color. As many Black activists, celebrities, and others have stated, changing the term “master bedroom” is just a minor drop in the bucket when it comes to anti-racist work in real estate.
Real problem: realtors don't show black people all the properties they qualify for. Fake problem: calling the master bedroom the master bedroom. Fix the real problem, realtors. https://t.co/Qq7yQ8Gb3g— John Legend (@johnlegend) June 27, 2020
When you stop using the phrase “master bedroom”, don’t give yourself a pat on the back and consider your work done. Don’t let this become a feel-good fix while ignoring much more impactful structural racism that must be eliminated from the real estate and home staging industries.
Now that you’ve decided to stop using the phrase – and committed yourself to further anti-racist work – what should you use instead? Here are some options we’ve seen so far:
We’ve been seeing “owner’s bedroom” as a common alternative, but this phrase brings in new implications of class and homeownership. Many people live in houses or apartments they do not own – making the phrase “owner’s bedroom” incorrect and exclusionary. Additionally, racism has a huge impact on the accumulation of generational wealth and homeownership. Because of this, we’re choosing to use the other options, like “primary bedroom.”
As stagers, we work to make homes more appealing to a wider audience. Stagers talk a lot about neutralizing a space and removing anything that could be offensive. It makes sense that we should also neutralize our language and remove any offensive phrases and labels.
Comment below. We’d love to read your thoughts and learn more about the other ways you are fighting racism in the staging and real estate industries.
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