By Naturally Moi
Black Friday had many people out at the malls, spending a lot of money on things that they probably don’t need. Most of these businesses are in the white community and sometimes, that comes with racial profiling. A woman sent us this disturbing letter via Facebook, so we thought we’d share her story. It’s sad and despicable:
As an avid second hand shopper, I am in and out of re-sale stores often seeking specific quality items. Earlier this month, I purchased a mink coat from the Women’s Exchange Store on Orange Avenue in Sarasota, Fla. On Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, after realizing the electronic security tag was still on the coat, I went to the store to have the tag removed and I was racially profiled.
Mindful of the fact that I would possibly set off the security alarm and that I did not have my receipt, I left the coat in my car. I went to the sales counter, explained to the sales clerk my situation. She asked me to please wait a moment, while she explained my dilemma to another sales clerk who in turn called the floor manager.
As I patiently waited ten to 15 minutes passed, then an elderly white female walks in with a coat. Ironically she presented the exact same problem I had; an electronic security tag was still on her coat. It shocked me when one of the sales clerks takes the coat, removes the security tag and sends the woman on her way; while I’m standing there in total disbelief waiting for the manager, to prove I purchased my coat.
All the clerks behind the counter were aware that I had presented the exact same situation. One clerk questioned, “how frequently does this hap-pen?” Another responded, “It happens a lot.” At that same moment, I am pointing out that our situations are exactly the same and why was she helped and not me? The clerk waiting on me basically shunned me, by stating, “Just wait a moment the manager will help you, she’s coming.”
I am a compliant person and I presented myself in a manner that was open to the store’s policies. I was prepared to have my purchase confirmed although I had no receipt (all sales are final) and I asked up-front did the store keep records of previous sales. As they interrogated me about my purchase. I kindly responded to the numerous questions made by the clerks and management. The questions ranged from do you have your receipt, are you sure you purchased it here to which register was it rang up on? They told me they needed something to prove I purchased it. Fortunately, I made this purchase with my debit card and I was able to prove the purchase by pulling up my bank records on my cell phone and showed them the transaction. Finally, they agreed to remove the security tag. I politely asked the manager to walk out to my car to remove the electronic security tag from my coat. She did, I thanked her and drove away broken and saddened by how some people are treated.
The problem that I have is not the fact that I needed to prove my purchase; nor the fact that I spent forty five minutes in the store proving it. My problem is the fact that two customers with the same dilemma were treated totally different. More importantly, we continued to be treated differently when I brought it to everyone’s attention. I am a highly educated, taxpaying 55 year old Black female, who is a very active and productive member of society, specifically in Sarasota and Manatee counties. It is apparent to me that racial pro-filing in Sarasota, Fla. is as obvious in 2013 as it may have been in 1962; at least at the Women’s Exchange Store. It astonishes me that people are not respected and trusted equally due to something as simple as the color of their skin. I continue to see this in the work environments, our schools and other parts of our society; most of the time I ignore it, due to ignorant small minded individuals that should be conscious of what they’re doing.
I’m so disappointed in the staff, volunteers and management at the Women’s Exchange Store. As a mother who raised three sons in Sarasota this behavior saddens me as I look at my grandchildren who spend time with me in this town. Is it a right or a privilege to have the expectation of being treated equally or do we continue to live with these types of double standards?