The Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) decided they would no longer use the term "master" bedroom to describe the houses they sell on their Multiple Listing Service.
In the wake of the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, companies, governments, and individuals are doing (mostly) everything in their capability in order to address their problematic statements, behaviors, and actions. From changing branding (as Uncle Ben's and Aunt Jemima did) to using new terminology, we're becoming more aware of how racism infiltrates our daily lives. Most recently, the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) decided they would no longer use the term "master" bedroom to describe the houses they sell on their Multiple Listing Service. Instead, they plan to use the phrase "primary" bedroom. The Association believes that the former term holds negative connotations to slavery.
The change took place quietly earlier this month. It has already been reflected on the Association's property listing database. Reportedly, the change came after several members demanded a review of the language used on the database. According to HAR, the change in terminology has been pending for a few years now but now seemed like the best time to actually make the shift to the new phrase. Nonetheless, it must be noted that the term is merely a "suggestion." The word "master" has not been banned from the database. This means that many people are likely to still use the term without facing consequences.
As per a statement from the Association, "The MLS Advisory Group regularly reviews the terms and fields used in the MLS to make sure they are consistent with the current market environment. The updates to Primary Bedroom and Primary Bath were among nine requests for review that were submitted by members and considered at the most recent meetings. It was not a new suggestion to review the terminology. The overarching message was that some members were concerned about how the terms might be perceived by some other agents and consumers. The consensus was that Primary describes the rooms equally as well as Master while avoiding any possible misperceptions. You may still use the term 'Master Bedroom' or 'Master Bath' as you feel appropriate in your marketing materials and in the Public Remarks, Agent Remarks, and photo descriptions."
The Houston Association of Realtors is not the only group to have reconsidered its use of the term "master." Earlier this year, the Court of Master Sommeliers, the group which grants wine stewards the highly sought-after "master sommelier" title once they pass an exam, also said it will no longer use the word "master" before a sommelier's last name, CNN reports. This has many wondering what terminology will be next. A tabloid asks, "It begs the question, what's next on the chopping block? There's the Masters golf tournament, Oprah's Master Class, and Master's degrees to name a few." While a change in terminology is a great nod to ensuring social justice when performing business as usual, we must remember that systemic change cannot be achieved with a few shifts in nomenclature. We must ask ourselves how our companies can be more inclusive and make a tangible difference to reform and abolish racist institutions.