Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Shopping while Black
This is why Black people in America need to seriously come up with Smart Black spending strategies. Don't put money in places that don't respect your humanity.
This is the latest from CNN's Black in America series.
By Soledad O'Brien
For Atlanta native Leah Wells, it's the humiliation she remembers most.
Not long ago, Wells sent me a note and forwarded a letter she had just mailed to Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO of Gap Inc. The letter detailed what happened when Wells and two girlfriends decided to ditch the gym during an office lunch break and do some "power-shopping" instead. The three young women, all in their 20s and all black, ended up detained for shoplifting.
"We were dressed professionally," Wells told me. "It was casual Friday. We had on dresses and casual office wear. We were racially profiled. It was as simple as that."
Wells says she and her friends were detained by six Gwinnett County, Georgia, police officers for "about an hour and a half" at the entrance of an Old Navy store, owned by Gap. Their crime, as Wells sees it, was being black in America.
In her letter to Murphy, Wells describes enduring "disdainful stares from the mothers and grandmothers and children entering the store." Police responded to a call from mall security about a gang of shoplifters in the store. They found no stolen merchandise on Wells or her friends. No one -- not the police, not the store managers -- bothered to apologize.
"No matter your education, your status or profession, some still only see the color of your skin," Wells wrote two months after the event.