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Black NYC shoppers claim racial profiling

post #1 of 90
Thread Starter 
How rare or how common is this happening? Any non-blacks with a similar experience?

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/25/black-shoppers-nyc-profiled/3200299/
post #2 of 90
I can't say anything as extreme as all that. I was once refused entry into a higher end store that I was going in to to make a $5K purchase. I am clean cut and wear a suit five days per week but on the weekends I tend to not make much of an effort. This happened one day when I had been off so I did not have a clean shave and I had been do some reno - type work around my place, so I looked pretty rough. I got caught up with what I was doing and realized the store was closing in 20minutes and I wanted to get my purchase made, so I walked over there as is. When I got there they had 15minutes till close and though they were letting other people in they told me 'sorry we are closing' I told them I would be about 5minutes as I knew what I wanted to buy, but they still refused to let me in. I guess she thought I was homeless guy as they are some in the area.

I went over there on the Monday dressed as I do for work and raised hell with the manager and did end up buying the item at cost.

This in no way compares to racial profiling, it is more like a Pretty Women story.
Edited by JeffsWood - 10/26/13 at 4:04pm
post #3 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffsWood View Post

I can't say anything as extreme as all that. I was once refused entry into a higher end store that I was going in to to make a $5K purchase. I am clean cut and wear a suit five days per week but on the weekends I tend to not make much of an effort. This happened one day when I had been off so I did not have a clean shave and I had been do some reno - type work around my place, so I looked pretty rough. I got caught up with what I was doing and realized the store was closing in 20minutes and I wanted to get my purchase made, so I walked over there as is. Sure enough as they closed in 15minutes till close and though they were letting other people in they told me 'sorry we are closing' I told them I would be about 5minutes as I knew what I wanted to buy, but they still refused to let me in. I guess she thought I was homeless guy as they are some in the area.

I went over there on the Monday dressed as I do for work and raised hell with the manager and did end up buying the item at cost.

This in no way compares to racial profiling, it is more like a Pretty Women story.

I'm glad you posted that last line; I was thinking the same thing.  It's probably more of a class issue than a race issue.

post #4 of 90
Well we're all aware of the green Hermes wallet incident.

This is one reason I avoid so-called 'high-end' retail, it seems more a place for customers to flaunt status and be part of a 'scene' than to actually make thoughtful purchases of well-made goods. If one has the resources to spend that much on an item, it's beyond me why they wouldn't use their own creativity and make something bespoke.
post #5 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigRob View Post

 It's probably more of a class issue than a race issue.

Le sigh. If I had a dime for every time a white person says that.
post #6 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ldegeneve View Post


Le sigh. If I had a dime for every time a white person says that.

 

Perhaps it is both; i.e. it is an issue of class, but the default assumption is that a black person is not of the "more desirable" class.

post #7 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ImTheGroom View Post

Perhaps it is both; i.e. it is an issue of class, but the default assumption is that a black person is not of the "more desirable" class.

I believe your point is that sometimes it's difficult to separate both but that racism still exists. Correct me if I'm wrong.

It is just exasperating to see attempts to diminish the importance of race in such instances, conscious or otherwise. See: OP's second question.
post #8 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ldegeneve View Post


I believe your point is that sometimes it's difficult to separate both but that racism still exists. Correct me if I'm wrong.

It is just exasperating to see attempts to diminish the importance of race in such instances, conscious or otherwise. See: OP's second question.

 

Yes - racism still exists, certainly.  My point is that, the person's decision to provide or to deny service, in some of these cases, may be based on class.  Often, this is a bias that the person will readily admit.  After all, if you sell $5000 items, do you really want to spend resources serving "customers" without the means to purchase such an item?  Their judgement of a person's socioeconomic class status, and whether that person is worth their while to serve, may well be influenced by racism.  People, by and large, accept that a person of a minority can be successful, and wealthy, but the default assumption is that they are not.  Therefore, if you are not dressed, and groomed, exceptionally well, most people will likely perceive you to be of a higher socioeconomic class.  But, if I happen to feel like wearing jeans and a t-shirt on a Saturday, and want to stop into a high end store, as a white man, I would agree am more likely to be considered a potential customer.  If I were black, Indian, First Nations, or Latino, I have no trouble believing that I would be given the bum's rush to some degree.

 

I am sure that there are cases of this that are solely motivated by racism, cases of denied service (less so of being accused of fraud, theft or other crimes) that are motivated by snobbery, and others that are motivated by a salesperson, on commission, thinking of the likely income of the sale based on personal, anecdotal experience of what factors indicate higher spending, but most often a combination of these.  I agree, though, that it is a cop-out to say "it is classicism, not racism," when the person's race is a major factor in determining his class-status.  The racism is just buried below the surface, and that gives people a way to ignore their own prejudices, instead of working to eliminate them.

post #9 of 90
As a professional salesperson I can speak from experience when I say that it is incredibly stupid to make an assumption about anyone who walks in the door.
post #10 of 90
ITG is arguing something like "statistical discrimination" as opposed to "taste based" discrimination. In this case seems like either model explains the (limited and biased, but clearly troubling) data we have in front of us.
post #11 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ImTheGroom View Post

After all, if you sell $5000 items, do you really want to spend resources serving "customers" without the means to purchase such an item?  Their judgement of a person's socioeconomic class status, and whether that person is worth their while to serve, may well be influenced by racism.  

Maybe someone with experience working in 'high-end' retail can chime in, but I find it highly unlikely that burdensome customers without the means to purchase an item come about very often at all; and even if they did, that they would be such a massive drain on the resources of the staff. My hunch is that the employees are much more interested in making the store look pretty, rather than bogged down by the unwashed.
post #12 of 90
From the pov of the firm, the greater concern is not wasted employee time, but theft. In these cases, theft through CC fraud.
post #13 of 90
Secondary concern is that the store might look less pretty to some customers with the "unwashed" hanging out there. I hope and pray we have at least gotten past this point in regards to black customers.
post #14 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

ITG is arguing something like "statistical discrimination" as opposed to "taste based" discrimination. In this case seems like either model explains the (limited and biased, but clearly troubling) data we have in front of us.

 

I'm not arguing that one or the other happens, rather that both surely do.

post #15 of 90
How about the fact that it's too easy for any store employee to call security and make a scene at the expense of someone else?? All because they "suspect" something is going on. Especially in this case when it turned out there was nothing fraudulent in the first place. The guy even spent some hours in jail.........his civil rights didn't seem to matter.

It's a fact that people are prejudiced and racist, however certain environments enable these people to bring that mindset to fruition. Then there are the police.......let's not even open that can of worms.
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