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From Barbie Dream Houses to The Fair Housing Act: The Evolving American Dream

I watched the Barbie movie and enjoyed it. As a Realtor, I couldn’t help but think “how much would the Barbie Dream House list for?”

The Barbie Dream House, introduced in 1962, was the idealized home kids dreamed about. It was an iconic symbol of luxury and a lifestyle available to a post war, white middle class.

The reality was, that in 1962, Barbie would not have been able to buy a house! As an unmarried, single woman, the banks would not have qualified her for a mortgage.

The American Dream of home ownership was not equally available to all. Minorities faced discrimination in housing, lending, and employment opportunities. Their reality was:

•  They could not buy homes in many desirable neighborhoods due to discrimination and restrictive covenants.

• Many banks would not make loans in minority neighborhoods

• If they could get a loan, they were charged higher interest rates

• Longer commute times due to being limited to further out communities

• Hiring discrimination resulting in both lower positions and wages

In 1968, Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act to acknowledge and correct the systemic discrimination prevalent in the U.S. housing market.

The juxtaposition of the Barbie Dream House and the Fair Housing Act offers more than a retrospective glance; it’s a narrative about the changing American dream and how far it has come. In 1967, Mattel introduced its first doll of color, Christie, a pioneering step towards diversity. This move, preceding the Fair Housing Act, signaled an emerging awareness and acceptance of racial diversity, slowly transforming Barbie from a symbol of uniformity to one of inclusivity.

As a real estate agent, I am keenly aware of the generational wealth that is created by homeownership. Discriminatory practices denied this opportunity to many racial and ethnic minorities. Sadly, we can not undo the past, however, we can continue working towards a better future.

The Ron Sitrin Team values the ethnic, racial, and economic diversity of the clients we get the opportunity to serve. We support and want every dreamer to have a place to call home.

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