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shoppingWhileBlack“Shopping while black” is the “crime” of shopping while being a black person. It is not supposed to be a crime but you would not know it the way some shopkeepers seem to assume you are going to take something the minute their back is turned.

In one well-known example a woman and two of her friends from work went to Old Navy during lunch. They were respectably dressed. But despite that when they entered the store the police were informed of a “gang of shoplifters” – based on little more than the fact that the three women were black.  The police came and held them for 90 minutes even though they had shoplifted nothing.

It is not just “certain blacks” either – most blacks in America have had the experience of being followed or closely watched while shopping, of not being trusted. One black woman put it this way:

I’m very careful about how I move throughout the store…. I try not to put my hands in my pockets. You internalize a lot of the heightened racial scrutiny.

Meanwhile on the Internet people say stuff like this about blacks:

… they just point the finger at the white community and cry racism, whenever they see white folks reacting reasonably to the uncivilized tendencies at the core of their own culture.

With the way some shopkeepers act you would think they did an Internet search and found out that most shoplifters are black.

In fact most people arrested for shoplifting in America are white – about 70% according to the FBI. And that comes in the teeth of racial profiling aimed at blacks and Latinos! According to one study shoplifters are most commonly white women in their twenties and early thirties.

A store at the Barton Creek Square mall near Austin, Texas is being taken to court for singling out black shoppers for suspected shoplifting: FBI numbers show that blacks at that mall are no more likely to shoplift than anyone else.

One black woman who was arrested at Macy’s in New York noticed that even though 80% of the people who shop at Macy’s are white, 0% of the four other  people who were being held at the same time as her were white: two were black, one Middle Eastern looking and the fourth Hispanic.

Blacks and Latinos are being singled out not based on any hard-headed facts but based merely on racist stereotypes.

ABC staged some very unsubtle cases of “shopping while black” (pictured above) to see what other shoppers would do. About 80% of the shoppers did nothing, but 20% of the time they spoke up for the black person. People of colour were more likely to do that than white people – meaning that well over 80% of white people are quite fine with it.

There has been progress: in the 1950s, according to Siditty, Neiman Marcus would not let black women try on clothes. Sears and J.C. Penney in the South were even worse: black women were required to order their clothes from the catalogue.

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