When Accused Of Racial Profiling, White Sephora Worker Says She’s From The Hood & Has Black Friends

August 10, 2017  |  

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Being racial profiled is nothing new for Black folk. From the minute we were emancipated in this country we became public enemy number one. Mostly because, I believe, White folks were terrified of what we might do in retribution. All we really wanted though was liberation and equality. Still today. But I’m going off onto a tangent.

What I mean to say is, we’re used to being watched. We occupy a very unique position that makes us both hyper visible and invisible at the same time. Hyper visible when it’s time to point a finger about society’s ills. But invisible when it comes to the ways in which this country has failed the very people who helped build it.

This hyper visibility manifests itself in numerous ways. When White women lock their car doors, as our former/forever president noted. When the police are looking for people to harass/arrest. And even in shopping centers. The assumption is often that someone with Black skin will be more likely to steal from your establishment.

A group of Black women found themselves a part of this phenomenon recently when they went to Sephora. Apparently, a clerk contacted a security guard about their presence in the store.

Instead of leaving or being offended and remaining silent, the girls decided to sternly but politely confront the clerk about her actions. And her response made a bad situation pathetic.

Friend 1: You don’t racially profile anyone who comes into the store. Because we came in as customers and to me I’m just telling you about the vibe I got. It looked like you were trying to accuse us of stealing based off how we look.

Friend 2: Can you let her speak?

Sephora Worker: I am.

Friend 2: You’re cutting her off.

Recorder: Yeah. You keep interrupting her.

Sephora Worker: I just want to apologize for it. I don’t want you to feel like I’m racially profiling you.

Friend 1: Then when I came over there to ask if __was coming and I was talking to her and you cut me off again. And she specifically seen you talking to the security guard.

Sephora Worker: What security guard?

Friend 1: The dude that was right here. I know you seen him because you guys made eye contact.

Sephora Worker: I’m really sorry you felt that way and I will never treat you that way again.

Friend 2: Anybody. Don’t racial profile. Don’t watch them as they walk through the store.

Sephora Worker: See I…

Friend 2: Let me speak. Cuz I am speaking to you as a person, as a human being. Don’t do that to anybody because that’s not…

Sephora Worker: I’m not…

Friend 2: Let me speak. Don’t do that to anybody because it’s not fair to treat people like that.

Sephora Worker: I’m sorry you guys felt that way. I would never intentionally do that you you all. You guys might not know this but I’m from the hood. I’m from Gary, Indiana. I would never look at you guys and go ‘Hey they’re stealing.’ I have tons of Black friends.

Collective groans

Friend 2: That doesn’t justify it. That doesn’t make it ok. And saying that you have Black friends that doesn’t help you.

Another Friend: You could still be racially profiling.

Sephora Worker: I’m sorry. Will you guys accept my apology.

Friend 2: Ok. Thanks.

Had this not been recorded, it would have been hard to believe that this actually happened. That she actually said these words. But videos don’t lie.

I know most of us can recognize the problems here, regardless of what may have transpired before anyone started recording. We don’t know if she called security or if she thought they were stealing. The conversation, which I applaud these young women for being brave enough to have, took a turn for the worse when the White girl tried to relate to these Black women by speaking about her hood origins.

Quiet as it’s kept “the hood” is not synonymous with Black. And her reaching back to that tired and offensive stereotype certainly doesn’t prove that she might have been willing to cling to another one about Black people and their propensity for theft.

Honestly, I’m surprised she trotted out the old “I have Black friends” line. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that that argument has been invalidated as a way to justify your allegiance to Black folk. Not only is it cliche, it in no way proves that you are not racist. Thomas Jefferson had Black children and still owned over 600 other enslaved Black folk. Your relation to Black people is not enough.

Again, props to these young women. While people on the internet were sure that they bullied this White woman, I know they handled themselves impeccably. In the face of being confronted with a stereotype, they spoke to the Sephora worker with a level of patience and calm I know I wouldn’t have been able to exhibit in that moment. They held her accountable for her actions, taught her a lesson on human decency and explained why her rationalizations weren’t good enough.

Honestly, this is the type of work that needs to be done to move toward racial equality. People have to be made aware of their ignorance before the can address it. And I’m happy the women and other people of this upcoming generation are up to the task.

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