Master bedroom soon to be 'renamed' due to 'slavery' links, Internet asks 'what about N-word?'

Numerous real estate agents and agencies in the Minneapolis-St Paul area have been phasing out the word 'master' in recent years

                            Master bedroom soon to be 'renamed' due to 'slavery' links, Internet asks 'what about N-word?'
(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

A listing agent for Edina Realty in Minnesota who teaches a racism and real estate continuing education class has recently been in the news for her attempts to get rid of the term "master bedroom".

For Jackie Berry, the term 'master bedroom' had never sat well. "There's a hidden discriminatory piece that falls when you say 'master' bedroom," she recently told Star Tribune. She then went on to say just how problematic the term has been since she joined the workforce and exactly how she hopes to get rid of it. 


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"I'm a person of color and every time the term 'master bedroom' was used, I kept saying to myself, 'I don't like how it sounds.' Now as I'm walking through a property, I'll just say it's the owners' or primary suite," Berry told the publication.

According to the report in the paper, numerous real estate agents and agencies in the Minneapolis-St Paul area have been phasing out the word "master" in recent years due to its connections to slavery. The outlet says that George Floyd's death caused the efforts to change the industry's vocabulary to pick up steam. "It's something that has come up more and more the past few months," Berry told the paper. "There's been an increased awareness and wokeness since George Floyd's murder. We're seeing racial justice work being put into play."

In July 2020, the Real Estate Standards Organization noted that while industry professionals said "master" was not a discriminatory violation under US Department of Housing and Urban Development standards, replacing it with "primary" was recommended. "It makes sense for the industry to coalesce around a new term to clearly define what it represents and ensure ongoing productive communication between professionals and their communities," the RESO said in a statement, the publication said.

The report adds that Minnesota industry groups haven't offered guidelines on recommended terminology and said that it's up to real estate agencies and individual realtors. Minnesota is not the only place to do this. The Houston Association of Realtors said it no longer would use the word "master" to describe bedrooms and bathrooms on real estate listings and that the term "primary" would be used in its place.

Debate on social media 

This has sparked a debate on social media. Attorney Ben Crump, who is known for taking up cases of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and George Floyd, the people poisoned during the Flint water crisis among others, took to Twitter to applaud the move. "Words MATTER! Good to see Minnesota phasing out the use of “master bedroom” in real estate listings. Many associate it with slavery, a repetitive reminder of plantation life. Together, we can create more inclusive, aware communities!" he wrote. 


No sooner did he share this than he started getting mocked on social media.

"Serious question, Ben. Do you know anyone who equated "master bedroom" to slavery? Let's stop the bulls*t. We have real issues to confront. Slavery was 160 years ago. If it's omnipresent in your mind at this point, you're an idiot," one user wrote. In another tweet, the same user added, "If the term "master bedroom" reminds you of slavery and must be eliminated, what does the word (N-word) remind you of, and why are you not fighting for its elimination? @AttorneyCrump". Another wrote, "The term "master bedroom" first appeared in a Sears catalog about six decades after slavery was abolished. It has nothing at all to do with plantation life. But the truth is not at all relevant to race-hustling con artists like Ben Crump."




Last year, The New York Times reported that the first recorded usage of "master bedroom" appeared in a 1926 Modern Homes catalog by Sears, Roebuck and Co. An architectural historian told the newspaper at the time that Sears may have introduced the term "as a way to attract aspirational suburban home buyers who aimed to be viewed as part of the expanding middle class after World War I."

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