Tag Archives: shopping

Barney’s Why so Racist? Classist? – On Discount Designer Stores

So I’m sure most people have now heard about the young black man who is suing the NYPD and Barneys. While buying a $350 Ferragamo belt he saved for he showed his ID when using his debit card (they keep saying debit so I assume he used his pin as well) and left the store, only to be stopped by 2 undercover cops  a couple of blocks away because he didn’t look like someone who should have that much money.

Here’s a link with quotes from the young man.

Then the young black woman who was stopped after buying a $2500 purse came out.

Then a black actor talked about what happened to him at Macy’s in June.

Barneys has released a bullshit statement that is a non-apology basically stating that their clerks didn’t have anything to do with it and they’ve hired someone to look into their practices.  Since this has been going on for decades ( look at this HuffPo article quoting a man who had it happen to him 2o years ago at Barney’s.) I doubt anything will change. They’re blaming the NYPD who apparently has undercover folks in the district’s stores all the time because of shoplifting/fraud. Last I saw the highest demographic of shoplifters was white women in their 30s-40s but that was a while ago so perhaps the statistics have changed? I sincerely doubt it. I have no idea about the statistics for credit card fraud.

Whether the stores or the NYPD are at fault (I’m sorta leaning toward NYPD) I’m not at all surprised that it was Barneys & Macy’s where these incidents occurred. These sort of discount designer stores with intense pretensions of frou-frouness often have this assumption of class based on outside factors including clothing and race (which is an assumption many of us deal with on a daily basis in the real word). However in actual high end boutiques and/or designer stores (especially in NYC) you don’t usually get the same assumption of class and monetary worth based on physical appearance. Most stores like those have learned the hard way that you can never really tell how much money someone has by the how they look, act, dress.

I’m not saying I think they’re better politically, in fact I’m pretty sure it’s a purely capitalist motive. Those sort of really expensive boutiques don’t do the briskest business especially in this economy. They rely on every sale and on brand loyalty/returning customers so they really cannot afford to alienate anyone. They also have regular customers who save to have that one great basic piece.  This is not to say that you might not encounter a whole host of other aversive racist behavior there but in my personal experience high-end boutiques are less likely to assume they know your monetary situation based on what you look like or how you dress/talk/act.

We shouldn’t ignore the fact that a lot of people also can’t afford to shop in those high-end spaces. There is after all a reason discount designer stores exist, for those of us who save for that one brand piece . So it’s a horrible, capitalist catch-22 that you might get treated better in the stores you can’t afford to shop in. And I say might because there are always exceptions such as Hermes’ treatment of Oprah Winfrey. Though that was also outside the US which means very different economics and race politics were in play in that interaction.

All the same Hermes really took it in the teeth for that whole thing. I would not be surprised if Ferragamo gives the young man the belt for free or some sort of gift certificate or something just to clearly separate their brand from the stink of Barneys/NYPD issues. They have a real chance to take this bad business for Barneys and turn it into good business and publicity for themselves.

But in the end while I’m saddened by all of these incidents I’m not surprised at all, that anywhere at anytime in the United States of America they could happen. Most People of Color in America live with the knowledge that our monetary existence is subject to a lot of suspicion and doubt at the best of times and these are not the best of times. I also think there could be a lot of aversive/unconscious/conscious racism/classism at play here around the expectation that “that sort of person” should not have the money/clothes/car/life that they do especially when you do not.

These incidents are not all recent either. I don’t know when the gentleman’s incident with the belt happened but Kayla Phillips had her altercation back in February, actor Robert Brown’s incident happened on June. I don’t know if these people only came forward after the incident with Christian and the belt came to light or if the media only picked up on their suits after the first one blew up but either way it’s telling.

It’s either:

We as people of color expect to be treated this badly by society, know how often those expectations are fulfilled and are afraid to stand up without other people around ( and I’ve noticed this in myself, when racist incidents have occurred I will turn to other people that were around and ask them to confirm my experience as if I can’t trust myself or know I’ll need outside <preferably white> validation if I choose to talk about it – but that’s a post for another day).

The media doesn’t care for one person of color being mistreated or even two, it has to be a mass of them (and even then if it can be ignored it will be).

Maybe the saddest part is that both the above things are true I just wonder which is truest in this case.

(I didn’t notice the resemblance of this title to my older post: Glee, why so white? Thinking this might become a series of posts. The ” (BLANK), why so (fucked up) ?” posts. Hmm, maybe. )

IBARW3, Debunking White Fantasy, Top 25 Black Superheroes & Shopping

A few links for the day

#1International Blog Against Racism Week 3 (IBARW3) is set to go from Aug. 4 – 10.  Here’s the call for submissions:

This year’s IBARW will take place between August 4 through August 10 (although please let me know if the dates conflict with important holidays). The theme (completely optional) is “Intersectionality,” as in, the intersections of various oppressions (ex. racism + sexism, racism + ablism). Suggestions and critique welcome here.

How Can You Help?

1. I need people to help compile links to posts. Last year, there were four of us and about 500 posts; I’m hoping this year will be bigger. Each person will basically take a day, put up a post in the ibarw comm, then tag links in the IBARW del.icio.us. If there aren’t enough people to do one day/week, we’ll rotate. We’ll also keep track of requests to retag posts in case something is tagged wrong. Also, if you can read a language that isn’t English, that would also be really useful for tagging non-English posts.

2. Volunteer to make icons! Examples from last year.

3. If you’re not American by self-definition, I would really, really, really appreciate a post or posts from you, as the “international” part of IBARW is very important. Extra love and appreciation if you aren’t from an English-speaking country/nationality. Posts in non-English languages are also very welcome!

4. Spread the word!

5. Post! If you’re white and don’t want to take attention away from POC bloggers, I respect that. But if you still want to contribute without taking attention away, you can also links to posts by POC or drive traffic or search for IBARW links for the compilers.

#2 Bankuei breaks a lot of shit down in his post – Debunking White Fantasy:

Well, why is that? All these weird species either boil down to alien non-human species or white people that look a little different and act funny. In other words, neither type threatens to dislodge the white normative. (Remember, human is synonymous with white!).

When and where we do see characters of color, they’re carefully shown with heavy stereotypical markers- asian people dress and act like this, african people dress and act like this, etc., because in that way, they’re not complex and full humans and threatening to the fantasy itself

Check the post out, you won’t be sorry.

#3 Black Voices has their list of the Top 25 Black Superheroes of All Time. Of course going through the list you see a lot of stereotypes and caricatures, non-humans and very few women. That’s not Black Voices fault at all but I would have liked a little more criticism on how these heroes were often bastions of racism and dehumanization on a really large scale but I realize that’s not what the list is about. I didn’t agree with a lot of the characters on the list or their placement but I can’t disagree with their number one, who despite his problems is one of my favorite superheroes.  

#4 Last for the Sci-Fi shopping geek in all of us, Best Buy is having a sale on DVD TV seasons from Fox including Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Angel, X-Files, Dark Angel and more. Head over and shop until you’re overdrawn, it’s what I intend to do ;).

Closing it’s doors.

Clarkesworld Books is closing up and having a liquidation sale until the 31st. All the new books have had price reductions and the used books are already pretty damn cheap. Minimum order is $25. Since they’re closing what they have is what they have so head over quick and spend, spend, spend. You don’t even have to feel like you’re picking over the corpse of someone’s dream because they aren’t closing for financial reasons.

I would be doing so myself but this not having a job thing cuts into such wonderful things as books shopping. Maybe I’ll survive on ramen this week and use my food money for books. Hmmm…excuse me while I go over my budget.