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I Had a Moral Obligation…

I thought it would make me feel better, but I still feel upset about it…

Here goes:

I went to Gymboree today to spend what I thought was $100 because I had $50 in Gymbucks to redeem that my mother in law gave me…turns out I had $200 in Gymbucks, meaning I had to spend $100…I digress…

While I was in the store it waxed and waned between busy and not…I went to the register and someone started helping me but was told to stop so the clerk could go "check on things" to which the clerk excused herself (while the other clerk continued to ring someone else up) and asked the 4 people in the corner if they were "finding everything ok"…mind you we are the only 5 adults in the store. This is when I find out I really have $100 more worth of merchandise to shop for and I went and did that…meanwhile same 5 people are in the store…let me now mention that 3 of us are white and 2 of us are black…

I find my extra stuff…get in line, I am second in line, meaning there is one white person left and two black people left, and for whatever reason this whole time everyone has been in the same corner of the store…as I am at the register the clerk gets on the phone all quiet like and says to security, "Do you ever just make "walk thrus?" yeah I think I got something, thanks" and she proceeds to keep an eye on the corner…which I am now watching…because I have no idea what she thinks she is seeing…and then IT DAWNS ON ME…no, she can't be…is she? SHE IS…

Something started raging RAGING inside of me…I felt like I was trapped on that "What Would You Do?" television show…and I start thinking to myself…"Ok, half of my merchandise is already up there…and I have a handful of clothes and I am up next…do I throw them on the counter with no explanation and say I cannot shop here?" Do I call her out on it? 

In walks prepubescent "security guard"…he walks into the store and goes straight to the corner where the three people are shopping, looks, stops and then walks to the counter to go stand by the woman who called…Literally can feel my blood rising….Now the woman next to me is done checking out and it is my turn to check out…as I put my things down the black couple (a man in his twenties and his young mother and his child) are approaching to check out to the very woman who called security…I am shaking…I have to say it…

Me: (To clerk) "Excuse me (my hands are now shaking)…can I ask why you called security when you did?" (Security is still standing next to her)

Clerk: (visually shaken and back pedaling quickly) "What? Oh yeah, we do that sometimes when the store gets really busy and we can't keep an eye on…

Me: (inturrupting) "Really it didn't have anything to do with the fact that there was a black couple shopping over there? Because…

Clerk: (inturrupting me, eating crow, eating crow) "What? What no…we just do that when the store is busy…

Me: "Really? Because I have really been struggling with this watching this all play out and I feel I have a moral obligation as the mother of a black son to say something. I am very uncomfortable with this…

Clerk: "Oh no, that's not it at all…no you (directing her attention to the black couple who I am not sure heard this all) come in here all the time don't you…I sweetie (to grandchild) you're getting so big…I'm sorry you felt uncomfortable (directed back at me as I continue to talk)…

Me: "Well, I really hope that is not what I just saw…"

To which my transaction was completed, I was trembling handling my money…I was near tears…just trying to compose myself to get it all out…and walked away…I thought I would feel better…I feel a little better…but feel like I should have done more…and yet feel like I did a lot…more than most would have (including the black mother of a classmate of my son whom I told the story to…her words, "I would have been too scared to say anything.")…

Now…everthing in my fiber tells me she was lying…that she INDEED was racial profiling…my case:

1.  There were 5 people in the store…that is busy?

2.  She said to me, "We sometimes do that (call security to do a walk thru) when the store is busy (again 5 equals busy how?)" is what she said to me…but when she called the security guard she ASKED, "Do you do walk thrus?" meaning she didn't know if they did walk thrus…meaning she had NEVER done it before…meaning they DON'T call the security to do walk thrus when they are busy only when they see black people in their store and think they are stealing because they are black…

3.  The mom from my sons day care who I talked to about it worked at the same mall right across the way and told me that your not allowed to call security unless  you have a theft to report…not just for a walk thru…

I know there will be a day my son will be the only black child in an all white situation and he will be looked at as the potential trouble maker…the one to watch…and it sickens me…and I can guarantee you I will fight every battle for him…I'll be damned if I will let a Huntingdon Valley Swim Club situation happen without a stink on my watch!

2 Responses

  1. sister, remember when we were in that same damn store.. that I will NEVER go back to… because it was INSANE.
    Don’t you remember that happening THEN??? There was no security guard.. it was all done with employees.. I told you when we were leaving.. and walking.. and I said I would never go back there..
    They were profiling a younger girl shopping by herself.
    Don’t go back, and write a letter explaining why.

  2. right on!

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