mi casa es su casa

No persons of any race other than the Caucasian race shall use or occupy any building or any lot.

A covenant is a provision, or promise, contained in a deed to land.

I prayed it wasn’t true.

I had often been proud of living in Richfield with its diversity. Student population at Richfield Senior High is 43% Hispanic, 26.8% White, 17.6% African American, 7.1% Two or more races and 4.9% Asian.

With their Guatemalan origin Juan and Crystel fit right in. This was important to Jody and me. Already they were unusual for having two moms and being adopted. Let them blend in on occasion. Get a break from being special.

Jody and I have owned our home for over 25 years. We welcomed Juan and Crystel into our home when they were infants. In one month, they will be graduating from Richfield High School. Yet this covenant is on our property deed.

I had read about the Just Deeds Project on our Richfield Community Facebook page. To find out if our home had a discriminatory deed I simply needed to type in our address on the interactive map. I was sure our home didn’t have one.

I’ve experienced the scorn and contempt of others for being different. Wouldn’t I inherently know discrimination? And, wasn’t it our family that always had the play dates, the school parties, and the block parties at our house to show everyone we were just like them? That we weren’t a family to be afraid of.

Instantly, I felt ill.

I did have a covenant on my home. Jody’s home. Juan and Crystel’s home. In 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, making covenants and other discriminatory housing practices illegal across the nation. Still, our house is marked. There is a pox on it.

Real estate developers began writing racial covenants – race-based property ownership restrictions – into property deeds in 1910. They were banned by the Minnesota state legislature in 1953 but not before a racial covenant was written on our property on November 29, 1946.

Richfield is home to 3,714 of these covenants.

No persons of any race other than the Caucasian race shall use or occupy any building or any lot.

How do I tell Juan and Crystel that a deed on our house states that no persons of any race other than the Caucasian race is welcomed in our home?

I can still be proud of Richfield. On Tuesday, April 13, the Richfield City Council took action to support the Just Deeds project. Starting May 1, 2021 Richfield homeowners can discharge the racial covenant on their property records. I immediately submitted an online Just Deeds Request form to start the process.

I want the next owner of our home to understand that I disagree with any type of racial covenant on our home. I want the owners to know that we made an effort to remove the mark, the pox, the stain on our house.

I can easily see one of our children owning our home and if not them a family that is not Caucasian. In fact, I would welcome that. Mi casa es su casa.

This entry was posted in discrimination, Just Deeds Project and tagged , , , , , by Elizabeth di Grazia. Bookmark the permalink.

About Elizabeth di Grazia

An artist, I follow the nudge inside of me. This nudge led me to write Peace Corps stories, find the front door to the Loft, and to graduate from Hamline’s MFA program. The story that became my thesis for Hamline is woven into my book manuscript: HOUSE OF FIRE: From the Ashes, A Family, a memoir of healing and redemption. It’s a story about family. And a story about love–for my partner Jody and the son and daughter we adopted from Guatemala. Most days, I can be found working as a Human Resource Manager for a foundry in Minneapolis. When I am not at the foundry I may be volunteering as a Police Reserve Officer for Richfield, MN or kicking butt at Kor Am Tae Kwon Do.

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