“Words MATTER!” Crump tweeted Monday afternoon. “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!”
Crump was referring to an article last week by the Star Tribune that said “master” is increasingly being replaced by “primary” or “main” in real estate listings in Minnesota amid a national reckoning on race. Other terms, like “man cave” or “mother-in-law suite,” are also being switched out with more gender-neutral language like “den” and “in-law suite,” the report said.
Crump, who has represented the families in multiple high-profile cases such as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and George Floyd, received a wave of ridicule for his tweet.
The New York Times reported last year that the first recorded usage of “master bedroom” appeared in a 1926 Modern Homes catalog by Sears, Roebuck and Co., which offered potential home buyers a kit they could use to build their own homes. 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.”
The Houston Association of Realtors stopped using the term last June as the George Floyd unrest continued across the country. The Real Estate Board of New York has also committed to reviewing whether the term should be removed from its residential listings, the Tribune reported Monday.
There have been no updated guidelines by industry groups regarding the term in Minnesota, but real estate agencies are taking it upon themselves to make the change, the Tribune reported.
“It’s something that has come up more and more the past few months,” Jackie Berry, a listing agent for Edina Realty, told the outlet. “There’s been an increased awareness and wokeness since George Floyd’s murder. We’re seeing racial justice work being put into play.”
“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,'” she said. “Now as I’m walking through a property, I’ll just say it’s the owners’ or primary suite.”