Let’s Talk About The “Landlord” v Tenant Rants

I saw this ridiculous meme on Twitter and I automatically said, “Absolutely not!” 

Out of curiosity, I looked at replies and I saw this meme: 

To which I said, “Absolutely not!”

I didn’t get pushback from the person who posted the obnoxious meme about landlords being superheroes in [squints] military uniforms so I will focus on the pile on I received from people who consider themselves anti landlord.

I pointed out that the, “having actual earned income from actual labor” idea is first and foremost ableist because the whole idea of virtue being gained through “actual labor” is indeed ableist. Furthermore, there is a HUGE assumption that the renter in question (and therefore all renters due to their own generalization) does actually have “earned income from actual labor.” A rented could be on public assistance. They very well could have a benefactor, such as a family member, who pays their rent for them. To automatically be a champion for renters as a made up class is erroneous.

Along this lines, I pointed out that the converse is also true. By asserting that renters “[have] actual earned income from actual labor,” one is (by virtue of their own generalization) suggestions that someone who owns a property does not have earned income from labor.

The renter is not earning income through labor at the rental property, so the homeowner does not have to earn income at the rental property in order for the discussion to be an apples to apple comparison.

Nothing about the way people move through the landlord versus renter discussion leaves room for working people who happen to own a property they don’t live in. Nor does it leave room for disabled people who cannot “earn income through labor.*”

You see, Twitter has become a place not of spreading information, awareness, and truth, but a place for hyperbole, pile ons and side choosing no matter how wrong the people one aligns with is.

And I don’t just mean wrong about the issue; even though that is so important. I also mean wrong about how they choose to attack anyone they see as an opponent to their beliefs.

This week, I said to someone: Life is not a soccer game. You don’t just choose a team then fight fervently for the win no matter what. Life should be about seeking to hone our understanding of issues and we, as life-long learners, should be open to refining our views to gain truth and understanding. That’s not the Twitter way.

People today like to argue on Twitter and throw around the word “landlord” and all it’s feudal system connotations. They want to pretend we live in a system where some robber-baron has inherited land through generations due to the kindness of the king and queen. They want to evoke visions of Donald Trump and Elon Musk. They don’t want people to see property owners as people who have toiled in the same dirt as them and have managed to break through a system that is built to keep them down.

People need to divorce themselves from the common idea that property owners today are some how privileged. More than anything, this idea allows people on Twitter carte blanche to attack and abuse people who already have difficult existences.It condones and encourages bad behavior on and offline by people who are more interested in harassing people than actually helping people.

I know a woman who has had amputations and extended hospitalizations, who has been on disability as her sole form of income, who inherited a home. No, she isn’t rich; I know inherited is a bad word with connotations on Twitter.

But guess what? Some children of former slaves inherited their humble homes as well. Many descendants of slaves who traveled North many years ago had been able to get a humble piece of America and they passed that on. Black people who weren’t allowed to enter front doors of establishments or go to schools that white people went to in some cases owned home and passed those down. This is her story.

I know another Black woman who owned a home but due to substance abuse issues, she had to move in with a family member. She was unable to recoup what she had paid for the home by selling it, so she rents it out.I know another Black couple who were relocated for work but they also could not recoup the value of their home by selling it so they, too, rented it out.

I didn’t spawn a homeowner. I have rented deplorable properties throughout my adult life. I rented on as recent as during the pandemic in 2020. But I have also owned.

People aren’t labels, they are people with whole stories.Let’s circle back to the condoning of demonizing people who rent out properties without discretion. I’m sure we would all agree that the last thing we want to do is align with people who want to maintain the current wealth gap in this country. By jumping on board with people who take to Twitter flailing insults and accusations at people who simply ask you to think on a topic, you may be doing just that. Very few stop and consider the language the person who recruits them to attack another has already used. Very few stop and consider that (if they cannot tell by the screen name or avi) the person they are attacking is or could be a Black disabled woman who has endured a lifetime of abuse. They just go in.

I am well- aware of the percentages of homeowners are actually Black or disabled. BECAUSE I AM ONE. When I say homeownership and renting out properties does not make a person inherently privileged or evil and people on Twitter argue with me like I’m “The Man,” they are asking me, a Black woman, to continue to allow homeownership to be dominated by white men so they can win an argument.

Don’t ask me to ignore the accusation tossed around online because “they aren’t talking about me.” Because I have been abused by people offline who have taken this attitude that by the mere act of owning my home, I deserve whatever abuse I get. This isn’t a theoretical argument I can bow out of. This isn’t a harmless online movement directed towards “rich” people. I live in a city where white people are twice as likely as Black people to own property. I live in a city where there are still verified efforts to keep Black people from owning property. I have lived through the horrors of qualifying and obtaining a mortgage as a Black person. And I have lived through the abuse that Black homeowners experience. I’m not doing this with you.

*I have left room in my explanation for disabled people who work jobs even though it takes a toll on them physically and mentally even though many in this arena do not.