Hey everyone. I am not writing this article as The GM today, but rather as Jelani Brooks, a lover of retail. Professional Swooner over all things of quality high fashion. A professional window shopper of sorts. But most importantly I am a 25-year-old African-American in New York City (Brooklyn to be exact). And that may not mean much to some but to others it bears the weight of the world.
On April 29th, a 19 year old college student named Trayon Christian walked into the Barneys Flagship store in New York City and purchased a $349 Salvatore Ferragamo belt. After being rung up, he was apprehended by secret shoppers/NYPD officers who detained him, accusing him of using a a stolen or fake debit card to make the purchase. He was held for two hours before being released after proving his card was real. He recently filed a lawsuit against the behemoth retailer which is how the story garnered so much spotlight.
Now that you have the backstory it’s time to provoke our thoughts. My first question is this: Even though this has happened, as a black consumer will we continue to shop and give money to the people who do not want our business? Example. If you go to someone’s house, and they do everything in their power to make your stay there as uncomfortable as possible and try to force you out at every chance possible, would you return? On a grander scale, doesn’t this sound very familiar? Isn’t this the story of the African American experience in America? But I’m sleep though
As a people we have to really analyze this situation. Our first reaction is “This happens all the time and it will happen forever.” That complacency is the cause to the vicious cycle. People will do only what you allow them to do. And for years we’ve allowed this in many forms. Will people always be racist? Yes. Do we have to continue to support these establishments? Absolutely not.
But we have a fear of seeming as if we can not afford to buy the coat Kanye had on in that picture you saw on upscalehype.com. But at what cost? To be herded around department stores and rushed out the building as if it were a fire drill? Hermés wouldn’t even let Oprah Winfrey in their building, but kids are still spending their whole checks on a belt!!!!!
Which brings me to my next question is at what point do we say enough is enough? What will it take for us to go up and arms (of course against racial profiling while buying dope clothes)?
These are things to think about the next time you go shopping. Look closely at the pictures I used in this article. They are all parodies and mockeries of the original brand. It is a satire to high fashion and a slap in a face to them. This is the attitude we should adopt.
What are WE shopping for? What are we trying to convey when we purchase these high end items? What does it mean to walk down the block with a Barneys bag? And if your favorite clothing store followed you around, arrested you for spending your hard earned money there, would you continue to try and keep up with the proverbial Jones’? My final question is this: When will it end?
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