Category: Diversity

Things You Think About When Shopping While Black

 

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Two employees were chatting at the register. Both looked up when I crossed the threshold, taking in my Afro blossom, but rather than speak to me, nod or smile, they merely fell back into their banter. Floored by the blatant dismissal dis, yet urgently needing a black dress, I made my way to the Ponte sheath black dress I’d seen on the chain’s website. I grabbed a size ten (and a size twelve just in case) and helped myself to the dressing room. Before I could release the French-door latch, an employee was damn-near on my heels. “Would you like to try those on?” Obviously. “Can I get your name?” This sudden interest is because you fear I’ll put one of these dresses in my handbag, right?

My face is shiny with shame as I type this next sentence. Excited that I still fit into a size ten and because the dress itself was gorgeous, I was ready to bag it up, in spite of the way I was treated.

But, stepping out of the dressing area, I just about tripped over an employee who glared at me with assumption. I woke up at this point,  remembering that I have a closet full of black dresses. And remembering that I deserve to be spoken to, and served. Just like any other customer.

Things You Think About When You Shop While Being Black and Wearing an Afro

That Time My Client Cropped My Afro In My Headshot, And Why This Is Not Okay.

I haven’t stepped into a Starbucks since two African American men in Philadelphia were arrested for merely being black in Starbucks back in April. But Starbucks isn’t the only company with issues with insensitivity. Consider three of my recent experiences with companies.

Myra Golden, Author, Trainer & Keynote Speaker

It’s Not Okay to Crop My Afro In Your Corporate Images

Minutes before a workshop, I was seated stage-right as my client gave me an impressive introduction to the audience. As part of the opening, a slide with portraits of all of the conference speakers was featured on the big screen. There were five of us, and I was the only African American.

I do not attempt to tame my hair with chemicals or heat. Unapologetically I wear my hair big and out.

The slide with the conference speakers showed headshots of each speaker. My headshot was positioned so that at least two inches of my Afro was chopped off. The portrait was odd and unflattering.