Friday, March 27, 2009

Ever Been Followed Around A Store For One Reason Only?

Yeah I'm going there. I have experienced overly persistent sales associates out for a commission but never followed around a store unless it's because someone assumed I was going to steal if left to my own devices. Now if I entered a store looking like a crack-addict I could understand the need for monitoring. I've worked retail and aside from obvious shifty behavior usually the people that steal do so out of greed than "need". It's the ones that put on airs that can be the most notorious. Like many things Black people have to put up with the assumption of guilt of a crime before one has been committed or even considered is just one of those things some of us have to endure in a racist world. What may come as a surprise is the actual culprits are not the ones assumed to be those most likely.

This segment from "What Would You Do" features a Black woman being stopped in what they describe as an upscale store.  I've been followed in stores. In San Francisco it's happened at the drugstores Walgreens and Rite Aid. Walgreens tends to have the Asian staff following me and other Blacks and Rite Aid it was the security guard on duty. I was shocked to find the guard lurking in a corner when I came out of the feminine hygiene product section which was all the way in the back like we're supposed to be embarrassed about normal body functions.  

Anyway I found the segment somewhat manipulative and over the top. I also didn't think the store they chose was truly upscale, just small. It wasn't Target so that makes it upscale? Have they been to the Prada store? I get that the point was to educate the deniers...and white people because most Blacks are already aware of this. I also found the categorization of "Shopping While Black" to be a bit ridiculous, but I won't discount it. "Driving While Black" is an accepted point of reference to describe harassment people receive going to and fro in their vehicles.

I also was certain the manner by which the salesclerk spoke to the shopper would've left the store vulnerable to a lawsuit - or at the least very bad publicity. In today's tech-oriented world people have video cameras at the ready to record the misdeeds of others in public places. So anyone being that inflammatory is just plain stupid and deserving of all legal recourse available.

This of course is my take on things. Watch the segment for yourself and if you wish to share, drop a line in the comment section.

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Unknown said...

as a young blood we always recruited a white girl who loved the brothers to go in and boost for us while we kept the guards busy...

white folks, predictable as usual

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

OMi: You are a trip!

Unknown said...

it's crazy because back then i thought it was the funniest thing. As i got older, i thought we were fighting against the 'man' using his tools. but as i got older, i began to realize the implications of that. it's really crazy that some people hold on to racist stereotypes so much that they don't really see the problem. I am sure most of those security guards and sales clerks were good natured folk who in a different time and place probably would let me eat in their home.

Yet because of what they were taught and conditioned to believe, they assumed that we were the criminals (well some of us were) at that moment when one of their own was actually doing the dirt. even back then it amazed me.

I remember watching an interview with some white graf artists who did the same thing when they racked paint. they pointed out how they would crack jokes with the clerks and security guards and let their black and latino friends linger about while they walked out with 50 cans of spray paint!

the sad thing is that we do the same thing. we have preconceived notions of people and what we think they are going to do. sad