This has been a poignant week around race for me. I worked on the chapter for “Shalom Sistas” about body image and embracing my identity as a black woman and watched the documentary 13th by Ava DuVernay on Netflix.
It was fantastic. Well made, fast moving, informative and stirring. I was crying by the end. It was one of the most powerful, “me too” moments I’ve had on this journey towards racial wholeness.
But what made this week especially hard for me was the racial profiling I experienced at not one, not two, but THREE different stores. Three different places. I was carded for my ID after putting in my pin while waiting for the approval— why? Twice I was stopped to have my cart searched— unbelievable.
I truly believe this week I experienced, racial profiling. Here’s a definition of from the ACLU:
Racial Profiling” refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.
I tried to give the benefit of the doubt— I did, but there’s only so much mistrust you can take when you’re out and about in the world before you begin to wonder— is there something broken in retail? Today, instead of offering help an associate chose to criminalize me— this is wrong. And we have to do something about it.
I’ve been wondering if retail managers are willfully ignorant to racial bias because they value the dollar more than people’s dignity?
My white husband told me this evening these types of things never happen to him. It was simultaneously validating and heartbreaking.
So, what do we do? As Shalom seekers, we not only identify the brokenness we move towards it with a strategy for wholeness. If you are a person who has never experienced the embarrassment of racial profiling at the store, can I suggest three Shalom Steps for when you see racial profiling that will validate the person of color and challenged hurtful assumptions?
1: Watch the interaction
2: Take notes
3: Stand in solidarity:
“I saw you carded that black mom with her kids just now, I guess you’ve changed your policy to card all customers— even though I’ve shopped here for years and it’s never happened to me. I’ll be prepared for now on.”
“I noticed you searched that man’s cart even though he had a receipt in his hands— if you’re going to search his things then search mine.”
This will shine a light on their own bias and maybe spark a conversation giving you an opportunity to share why it’s wrong and offensive to single out people of color.
If you happen to see the person of color the parking lot, please say something kind to them. A gentle,
“I saw what happened and it wasn’t right. I hope you have a better rest of your day”
Can heal so much of the humiliation and anger that comes after being treated like a criminal when you simply wanted to pick up toilet paper, laundry detergent, and dish soap.
You can practice Shalom in the stores this way, Sistas. We’re coming up on a holiday where you’ll be in and out of stores. Keep an eyes for this and let the Spirit guide you to be peacemakers this season of peace.
Pray for me to. I don’t this sadness and hopeless that things will never change to overtake me.
Shalom-seeking While Shopping (even when I’m being searched and carded— Bless.),