Reading rawstory.com today, I came across a story that had me somewhat conflicted. The article, Al Sharpton threatens boycott of Barneys over racial profiling, had me fighting with myself over what I thought about a boycott in this day and age. I’ve been subjected to racial profiling before, so I know firsthand what it feels like to be treated in that manner. At the same time, I don’t think a boycott is something that’s going to change that attitude in today’s society.
From Raw Story:
“The civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton is threatening to boycott the luxury New York retailer Barneys over allegations by shoppers that they were racially profiled there.
“We’ve gone from stop and frisk to shop and frisk, and we are not going to take it,” Sharpton said on Saturday, adding that black New Yorkers “are not going to live in a town where our money is considered suspect and everyone else’s money is respected”.
Two black Barneys customers, Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips, said this week they were detained by police after making expensive purchases. Christian sued Barneys, saying he was accused of fraud after using his debit card to buy a $349 Ferragamo belt in April.
The CEO of Barneys, Mark Lee, offered his “sincere regret and deepest apologies”. Barneys said on Thursday it had retained a civil rights expert to help review its procedures. In a statement, the retailer said: “Barneys New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination and we stand by our long history in support of all human rights.”
Sharpton vowed to put shopping at Barneys “on hold” if the retailer fails to respond adequately to the allegations.”
The part of me that’s been profiled is all about bringing such incidents to the light of day to ensure people can see what really goes on in this country. I don’t accuse most people of being racist or even bigoted, but when the actions are there and blatant, somebody has to speak out in my view. I’d have no problem with speaking up for anybody who has been or is being subjected to such treatment because we are all the same, and no one person or group should be treated like crap just because of who they are or what group they belong to.
The conflict within me arises, however, at the notion of boycotting the store. What effect would that have by simply not shopping there? Boycotts worked long before, and they are sometimes successful now. However, if I had the opportunity to share council with Rev. Sharpton, I would try to strongly encourage him to take a different route on this one and subsequent protests.
This country is all about money, there’s no doubt about it. Boycotting a store reduces that store’s revenue for a set period of time. After the boycott, you go right back to shopping at that same store. What I would suggest is that, instead of boycotting the store, take that money that would be spent there, and teach these kids how to start and operate their own businesses.
It’s estimated that the Black American community will have buying power that will exceed $1.1 Trillion by the year 2015. Instead of simply giving that money to others, why not take that money and invest it within our community? Imagine what $1.1 Trillion dollars would do to help the Black community help itself? That kind of consumption creates demand that fuels jobs. No disrespect to the rest of America, but it’s about time that Blacks do what every other community in this country has done, which is fund and fuel from within.
Quit the act of simply giving money away without asking or receiving something in return. Since the Civil Rights Movement, Black unemployment in America has consistently sat at twice the national average. A $1.1 Trillion dollar infusion into the Black community would change that faster than any government program or charity could ever hope to.
Rev. Sharpton, leave the idea of a boycott behind. Take that effort and start a program to teach these young kids what it takes to become successful. We hear continuously about all the “thugs” in the Black community, but you never hear about the lawyers, doctors, pilots, or successful business owners. Get these successful people to come back to the community and offer assistance where it’s needed. There are some conservative Blacks who talk about others pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Call them on their rhetoric, Rev., and get them to show up in the “hood” and teach these people what “bootstraps” are. If a person don’t know what a bootstrap is, how are they supposed to pull themselves up?
In other words, make the opportunity where one does not exist. I do not mean any disrespect towards anybody outside the Black community, but it is way past time for crap like racial profiling to have run its course. If someone doesn’t want my business, I’m not going to force them to take my business. I will simply take my business where it is appreciated. I personally wouldn’t spend $300 on a belt, so I would likely not find myself in such a predicament. It’s easy to see when you’re shopping in a store and you’re the only one that the sales people don’t approach to offer assistance. It’s also easy to see when you’re being followed to see if you’re going to attempt to steal something. Whether it is beer or socks, food or household supplies, I will not spend a single penny where I’m not respected. Period. Maybe it’s time that the Black community learns that lesson as a whole.
- Al Sharpton threatens boycott of Barneys over ‘racial profiling’ (theguardian.com)
- Al Sharpton threatens boycott of Barneys over racial profiling (rawstory.com)
- Sharpton Threatens Store Boycott Over Profile Suit (npr.org)
- African-American’s Buying Power Projected to be $1.1 Trillion By 2015 (blackenterprise.com)
- Black Buying Power Continues to Rise (reachingblackconsumers.com)