Wednesday, August 26, 2009
"Chris Rock has a funny line about malls: There are two kinds - the one white folks shop at and the one white folks used to shop at.
Tell us what you think or what have been your own experiences!
E-Mail us your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
Does Roche Brothers Racial Profile their minority customers? Does Roche Brothers have a customer profile or does that depend on who your family is or what color or tribe you are from? Doesn't your family deserve better?
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Published Cape Cod Times Newspaper Editorial Page- My View By RODNEY COLLINS
August 25, 2009
The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." In the case of the Roche Brothers grocery store incident that was recently publicized, facts need to be put in perspective.
A woman entered Roche Brothers in Mashpee and placed meat in her shopping cart. The store manager observed the same woman check out without the meat but with a bag. These facts are undisputed. The woman was approached not because of the color of her skin but rather her conduct. It could be reasonably construed as raising suspicion. The manager approached the woman and made a simple inquiry. She was not accused of shoplifting.
The woman demanded the Mashpee Police Department be called and an officer responded. It was determined that the woman had placed the meat back in the cooler prior to leaving the store. The situation was blown out of proportion.
The woman wanted to file a complaint against the manager. The officer inquired as to whether the woman was assaulted. She said no. Subsequently, the woman stated to the press that she was assaulted. She submitted a written statement to the police department indicating that she was "almost knocked to the ground." The woman's version of what happened had conflicting details. As a result, there were no credible grounds to file any criminal complaint.
I was contacted by the press regarding the incident as a result of the woman claiming some form of racial profiling. In my 29 years of law enforcement, the actions of the woman were consistent with a person in pursuit of civil litigation and not facts, and I expressed such opinion.
Then John Bangert, who heads the Harwich Chapter of "No Place for Hate," claimed that the Mashpee Police Department was neglectful by not providing a hate crime form to this woman. Bangert failed to recognize that the form in question is filed by the law enforcement agency of jurisdiction and only after a sustained hate crime has been reported. Bangert further drew premature conclusions without any factual basis from a competent investigation. This suggests bias, the very element he is supposed to detect and prevent.
Moreover, since this incident occurred in Mashpee and not Harwich, I never understood his involvement anyway.
Then another writer defended the "character" of the woman in question while failing to point out none of this would even be necessary if the woman had not made such a public spectacle of this matter. The writer suggests that I took the word of a "white man" over a "black woman." That is factually untrue. I evaluated the inconsistencies in statements of the "black woman" and the credible report of a Native American officer and concluded no "hate" element existed.
The writer also referred to the "humiliating" experience of this woman being confronted in front of so many witnesses. If this is true, then why hasn't one of those witnesses come forward to verify the so-called "accused" account? The writer doesn't hesitate to express her opinion but condemns me for doing the exact same thing. This hypocrisy is typical today but when opinion has absolutely no reasonable basis it becomes irresponsible.
Then the writer suggests that I was insensitive by expressing an opinion because the so-called "accused" has been diagnosed with cancer, as if I had knowledge of it when I made my original statement. Having a mother who died from cancer and a father who is battling it, I don't need any counsel on the impact of cancer.
If a "hate" element existed in this case as has been suggested, I would be the first to advocate appropriate charges. I worked closely with current New Hampshire Attorney General Mike Delaney and then Attorney General Phil McLaughlin to file the first hate crime homicide charge in the state of New Hampshire's history. In fact, I was complimented by Anti-Defamation League for the manner which I handled the case.
However, when no such element exists as in this case, I am not going to manufacture something to appease a distorted perception of reality.
The bottom line is that decisions relative to the Roche Brothers incident had nothing to do with race but rather a woman's conduct, conflicting statements and a store manager's arguable reasonable suspicion. The facts did not support the complainant's claims. There was no bias linked to a protection by law. There was no "accusation" but rather a brief inquiry based upon an observation.
Rodney Collins is chief of the Mashpee Police Department. His email is:email@example.com
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
We need to be talking about this matter as part of our continuing education on Civil Rights, not just putting a poster or picture of Rev., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in February, or offer MLK Day discounts of goods stores want to sell in the "Market Economy". MLK Day January 19, is a day on, not just another day off.
We need to embrace our beloved community every day all year long. This is the economics of our community, and is not based of the GNP, but rather on the civility we say we are moving towards. Let us all learn from Deborah's dis-ease of "shopping while black" in her Mashpee super market here in the Cape Cod market place. We can be and act better than this folks!
I believe Consumer Racial Profiling is indicative of the continuation of our greater community’s lack of knowledge and understanding as to what our responsibilities are for those of us who enjoy “white privilege. " How can anyone stand still and be silent?
In Harwich of the days of yore, Captain Jonathan Walker was branded on his hand with the initials of SS for slave stealer.
The town folks in Harwich back then thought that Jonathan should mind his own business and return from the Florida and Caribbean region and tend to the families lumber mill ran, from East Harwich in the 1830’s . When the town certainly allowed wind mills with out any controversy.
Very little local support was granted to Jonathan Walker as he lingered in his prison cell in Florida. The Walkers family not only needed to pay for his imprisonment, but he also lost his boat and lively hood for the acts of courage for taking former slaves to West Indies Islands and Mexico, before Mexico as annexed to become the Lone Star, non free, Republic of Texas.
Later a group of northern abolitionists raised funds for his release and bond. He than traveled around the country lecturing on the abolition of slavery. He even came back to Cape Cod along with Fredrick Douglass whom he had met in New Bedford.
He later wrote about his experience in the book sold at abolitionists meetings around the country.
Jonathan's wonderful quote -
“If you are against slavery, you must be a “come-outer” or if you are not, you must be “stay-putter”!
During his youth, Walker was captain of a fishing vessel, but around 1840 he went to Florida and became a railroad contractor. He was interested in the condition of the slaves, and in 1844 aided several of them in an attempt to make their escape in an open boat from the coast of Florida to the British West Indies. After doubling the capes, he was prostrated by illness; the crew, being ignorant of navigation, would all have been drowned if they had not been rescued by a wrecking sloop that took Walker to Key West. From there, he was sent in chains to Pensacola, where he was put in prison, chained to the floor, and deprived of light and proper food.
Upon his trial in a United States court, Walker was convicted, sentenced to be heavily fined, put on the pillory, and branded on his right hand with a hot iron with the letters "S. S." for "slave-stealer". But to some he was "slave savior".
A United States marshal executed the sentence. He was then returned to jail, where he was confined eleven months, and released only after the payment of his fine by northern abolitionists. For five years after his release, he lectured on slavery in the northern and western states. He moved to Michigan about 1850, where he lived near Muskegon until his death. A monument was erected to his memory on August 1, 1878.
Walker was the subject of John Greenleaf Whittier's poem "The Man with the Branded Hand". Whittier heard about Walker's actions after reading a book about him called Trial and Imprisonment of Jonathan Walker. The poem praised Walker's actions. Upon his return to New England, abolitionists hailed Walker as a hero and martyr. John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem in 1846 titled “The Branded Hand.” The most famous stanza of that poem went:
Bold plowman of the wave
Its branded palm shall prophesy
Salvation for the slave.”
TRIAL AND IMPRISONMENT
What is Deborah Saldane guilty of ?
Being an African-American - Yes!
Being a Native American (Blackfeet Nation) decendent - Yes!
Being a woman - Yes!
Being 60 years old - Yes!
Being disabled from cancerous tumor on her leg - Yes!
Someone who walks with a cane and while shopping puts her cane and purse atop an ADA super market carriage for better support- Yes!
Purchasing a Morning Cape Cod Times -Yes!
Purchasing a cup of tea inside Starbucks which is located in Roche Brothers store - Yes!
Someone who was committed to being a teacher in the Mashpee school system for over 15 years - Yes!
A loving mother - Yes! A loving grandmother - Yes!
Was Deborah waiting for her American Cancer Association volunteer driver to take her to Cape Cod Hospital for Chemotherapy- Yes!
Is Deborah a strong women who stands for all of our rights - Yes!
But stealing food NO!
Should we not wrap the very same symbol of freedom around Ms. Saldana shoulders which was proudly flown last week on Cape Cod when, a another fallen soldier was honored for his sacrifice for civil rights and freedom from oppression for Deborah Saldana's as well as for all of our own civil rights and freedom.
We like Jonathan Walker, must never forget our own privilege which makes us OK when shopping while white?
I quote from Dr. Jerome Williams piece - "The United States has legally addressed the issue of consumer racial profiling, however limited the effort. The U.S. Congress designed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to ensure "that a dollar in the hands of a Negro will purchase the same thing as a dollar in the hands of a white" person. In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court described the purpose of Section #1981 of the 1866 act as follows: "The aim of the statute is to remove the impediment of discrimination from a minority citizen's ability to participate fully and equally in the marketplace."
"The Civil Rights Act of 1964 further provides that: "All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation." This law aims "to eliminate the unfairness, humiliation, and insult of racial discrimination in facilities which purport to serve the general public."
Deborah Saldana, is a 60 year old Afro-American woman and resident of Mashpee, Massachusetts. Deborah’s grandfather was William Ulysses Boone, a member of the Blackfeet people and he was born on reservation in Oklahoma during the “Trail of Tears".
Ms. Saldana is also a local member of Mashpee branch of Jehovah Witnesses and congregational member Mashpee Kingdom Hall.
Remember and understand this! Jehovah Witnesses don't not grandstand about realms, other than the Kingdom of God's realms and domain!
"Whenever someone in our community is wronged, the whole community is wronged!" Edgar Cahn
Deborah is in the midst of chemotherapeutic treatment of cancer. She does not drive, but does use public transportation from her home near the entrance of Camp Edwards /Otis air force base on Cape Cod. On Wednesday July 29, 2009 a friend gave her a ride to Roche Brothers and while waiting for her American Cancer Society volunteer driver to transport her to Cape Cod Hospital for treatment.
Ms. Saldana has a cancerous tumor on her leg and walks with a cane. That's is why she uses a cart to lean on, bought her paper, and then goes for a cup of tea at Starbucks Cafe which is located with inside the Roche Brothers (this is a store in a story situation), before transferring to the her ride.
She also occasional uses the restrooms at the store because she does not get back home until after 4pm. The manager is reported in the press to say he had observed Ms. Saldana put meat in her bag. Why would anyone women put a raw packaged of meat in their bag and keep it with them for 7/8 hours ? Ms. Saldana told me the manager asked her “where are you hiding the pork”?
Certainly Roche Brothers was not spending their “pork” in loss prevention, shoplifting determination and accepted consumer racial profiling protocols.
Read the press accounts on my blog and examine this incident yourselves !
Editor's Note: John Bangert
Monday, August 17, 2009
"Driving while Black" has been a pervasive problem for African Americans, with more than half of Black men and more than a third of African Americans overall reporting that they have been subjected to some form of racial profiling on the roads. Far more pervasive, however, is what might be called "shopping while Black," or consumer racial profiling.
How many times have you been in a store and found yourself receiving poor treatment that you believed was racially motivated? Maybe you were stalked as a potential shoplifter, or ignored as others got assistance, or handled with outright rudeness? Did you confront the clerk or manager? Simply leave in disgust? Or did you do your best to ignore it and make your purchase anyway?
Our research suggests that most African Americans have a story to tell. A mail survey of 1,000 households that we conducted with professor Thelma Suggs of Purdue University in the mid1990s found that 86 percent of African Americans believed they had been treated differently in retail stores because of their race.
It's a worthy topic year-round, but it seems especially relevant during this holiday shopping period, with the troubled economy making retailers more nervous than usual. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday season sales account for at least 25 percent of total annual retail sales of general merchandise, as people buy everything from clothes to cameras to coffee tables. Holiday sales - excluding automobile and restaurant revenues -- produce about $800 billion annually. But regardless of this year's special crisis, the issue of consumer racial profiling is critical and it would serve retailers' self-interest, not to mention those of all their potential customers, to eradicate it.
Many of these potential customers are African Americans with significant buying power. Black households are estimated to possess aggregate purchasing power of $572 billion in 2001, an increase of nearly 86 percent since 1991. Still, consumer racial profiling persists. It can take many forms, including some that draw incredulity in the 21 st century. There is avoidance, when a sales representative might simply ignore African American customers; discouragement, when a salesperson might delay waiting on customers; rejection, an outright denial of a chance to purchase a product; and finally there can be actual verbal and/ or physical attacks.
"Hidden camera" investigations by television newsmagazines such as Dateline and 20120 and articles in the popular press have documented all kinds of cases. In addition, professors Carol M. Motley of Howard University and Thomas L. Ainscough of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater note in their own research, based on a field audit study, that African Americans wait longer for customer service in the retail industry than whites of the same gender. Getting a true national picture of this problem and whether it is rising or declining at any particular time is difficult, though. Newsmagazine shows and their cameras aren't everywhere. And there aren't enough social scientists to monitor every store.
Such discriminatory treatment can have serious consequences for retailers. For example, sales at Treasure Cache, a gift shop in Dearborn, Mich., fell more than 50 percent immediately after the death last year of an African American man during a fight with security guards from an adjacent Lord & Taylor store. Businesses also risk costly lawsuits. Dillard's Department Stores, Inc. lost $1.2 million in 1998 after a court ruling found that a store security officer interrupted an African American woman as she redeemed a coupon for free cologne and as a result had violated the woman's rights to enjoy the benefits of her contract with Dillard's.
Some organizations may justify violations against African Americans as collateral damage in their war against shoplifting, though one would expect such concerns would mean that all customers would face scrutiny, not just African American ones. Regardless, the numbers from the annual University of Florida survey on retail losses spotlight a significant point: Employee theft, at 44.5 percent, accounts for a far greater portion of the "shrinkage" at the nation's 200 largest retailers than shoplifting (32.7 percent). Given that fact, retailers might be better off channeling resources to "watch" employees rather than having employees "watch" customers based on race.
For instance, a white employee of The Children's Place Retail Stores Inc. filed discrimination charges against the Secaucus, N.J.-based national chain, alleging that African American shoppers were treated as potential criminals.
She alleged that her white supervisors in a Massachusetts store ordered her to shadow African American customers, to refuse them larger shopping bags and to withhold credit applications. Though the company (which owns 17 stores in Massachusetts and 365 stores nationwide) denies that it systematically monitored Black customers, it settled out of court, agreeing to improve employee training and donate $50,000 to charities. The Children's Place also agreed in December 2000 to spend up to $100,000 to examine its hiring and training practices.
The United States has legally addressed the issue of consumer racial profiling, however limited the effort. The U.S. Congress designed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to ensure "that a dollar in the hands of a Negro will purchase the same thing as a dollar in the hands of a white" person. In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court described the purpose of Section #1981 of the 1866 act as follows: "The aim of the statute is to remove the impediment of discrimination from a minority citizen's ability to participate fully and equally in the marketplace."
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 further provides that: "All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation." This law aims "to eliminate the unfairness, humiliation, and insult of racial discrimination in facilities which purport to serve the general public."
Though the law is specific about outlawing discrimination in what is termed a "place of public accommodation," it is unclear whether a shopping mall or a retail store constitutes such a place. The public places emphasized were restaurants, hotels and motels places where it was believed discrimination was more likely to occur. Retail stores, food markets and the like were excluded from the act because it was believed there was little, if any, discrimination in such places. In other words, there are loopholes. It is conceivable, for example, that the law would address discrimination at a Woolworth's lunch counter but not necessarily confront any indignities African Americans might have experienced while trying to shop in a Woolworth's store without a lunch counter. But African Americans have never been without recourse.
Sociologist Joe R. Feagin of the University of Florida suggests several coping strategies: withdrawal, resigned acceptance, verbal or physical confrontation, and legal action. In academic circles, marketing researchers tend to aggregate all consumer responses under one of three strategies: exit (leave store), voice (complain, file a lawsuit, etc.) or loyalty (acceptance, continue to purchase from retailer).
For African Americans, it seems, chances are strong that the response did not include pursuing legal action. African American lawsuits challenging consumer racial profiling only began emerging in the 1990s. (We are studying 60 such cases filed between 1990 and 2000.) Still, the number of legal cases measured against the anecdotal and documented evidence of profiling suggests that African Americans are reluctant to file suit.
Social scientists are trying to determine why so few cases reach the legal system. In a series of recent experiments, psychology professor Karen Ruggiero of the University of Texas at Austin and her colleagues demonstrated that stigmatized people attribute their failure to discrimination only when they are certain of that discrimination. People may often avoid making such charges because they fear they have no control over the outcomes, which can be negative and include high costs, financial and emotional.
African Americans may also be reluctant to file suits because they know it will be difficult to prove discrimination. Most incidents do not provide an African American victim a chance to compare the service he or she received to the service a white customer may have received under similar conditions. This is problematic from a legal perspective.
In our ongoing study of the 60 lawsuits filed between 1990 and 2000, we have found some interesting details. More African American women than men have filed lawsuits. The cases also reflect more situations in which groups are present rather than an individual. In many of the cases, there are mixed groups, i.e., African Americans and whites together, and there is differential treatment of members in the two groups. The settings include grocery/food stores, clothing stores, department stores and office equipment stores. Some incidents include denying store access, refusing to serve customers, using racial epithets, asking for different forms of identification, limiting purchases, searching "suspicious" customers, requiring higher available credit limits, charging higher prices for service and asking more rigorous questions on applications. Defendants included major retailers such as Office Max, Wal-Mart, Sears, Dillard's, Macy's and Home Depot. In a number of these cases, the court ruled in favor of the company.
A new chapter on consumer racial profiling opened after the tragic events of Sept. 11. Another group, Arab Americans, have found themselves facing the kind of profiling that has dogged African Americans. Since the terrorists attacks on the United States, Arab Americans report being questioned and detained more, sometimes barred from boarding aircraft and even taken off planes by police and pilots. And it's not just Arabs. Retail profiling may impact anyone perceived to be Middle Eastern, including South Asians, Latinos and even Jews. In one incident, Northwest Airlines refused to let three passengers of Middle Eastern descent board a flight to Salt Lake City. In an apology, Northwest security officials acknowledged that they need to focus on passenger behavior, rather than appearance.
Sikhs have been particularly impacted. It's customary for Sikh men to wear turbans, and since Sept. 11th, they've paid dearly for it. Media reports note how they have been targeted for suspicion and attack though they are neither Arab nor Muslim. Rep. John Cooksey (R-La.) even ran political advertisements advocating racial profiling and has said "someone wearing a diaper on his head" meets the profile of a possible terrorist. At least one Sikh is believed to have been killed amid the hysteria.
Harmeet Kaur Dhillon, a senior litigation associate in the Palo Alto, Calif., office of Cooley Godward LLP, is a member of the Sikh Communications Council, a nonprofit organization composed of key Silicon Valley executives and professionals representing the Sikh community nationwide. The group recently hired a public relations consultant and launched an educational campaign to combat the racial profiling of Sikhs and other groups, including African Americans. It is also calling for congressional hearings on racial profiling.
Disturbingly enough, even African Americans have appeared to be supportive of profiling other groups when it comes to airline security. In a September Gallup poll, 71 percent of African American respondents, compared with 57 percent of whites and 63 percent of non-whites, favored requiring Arabs, including Arab Americans, to undergo greater security checks at U.S. airports. It should be noted that there were only 71 African Americans among the 1,032 respondents, only half as many as would have been needed for the sample to be representative of the U.S. population. Still, a follow-up poll by the Zogby International polling organization also found a higher overall percentage of African Americans favoring greater security checks for Arab Americans.
Besides the obvious reason of fear in the wake of nearly 3,300 people being killed on Sept. 11, there remains a question of why people from a group that has experienced such discrimination for so long might have been so supportive of these practices. Psychologist Stephen C. Wright offers one hypothesis based on social identity theory. Under this theory, when a disadvantaged group wins acceptance, members of the group will sometimes try to enhance that status by being harsh toward the new outsider. Is this what is happening with African Americans and Arab Americans? Far more research and analysis is necessary on the question.
Far more analysis and research on consumer retail profiling is necessary in general. There is now a large body of research on discrimination in major consumer purchasing such as housing and cars. However, economist Peter Siegelman at the University of Connecticut points out that we know relatively little about discrimination in other transactions, such as retail settings. In the meantime, African Americans must remain vigilant against all types of discrimination. Fighting back is key, whether it's through the courts or by wielding the hammer of purchasing power. It's the only way to make sure African Americans receive equal treatment for their equal dollars.
Jerome D. Williams and Geraldine RL Henderson are associate professors in the Marketing Department at the Howard University School of Business, and are affiliated with Howard's Center for Marketplace Diversity. Anne-Marie Harris is an assistant professor in the Management Department at the Salem State College School of Business in Massachusetts.
Copyright Crisis Publishing Company, Incorporated Nov/Dec 2001
There’s a lot more to racial profiling than traffic stops, according to a recent lecturer here.
“Current scholarship has only captured the tip of the racial profiling iceberg,” said Shaun L. Gabbidon, a professor of criminal justice in the School of Public Affairs at Penn State-Harrisburg.
While popular opinion and the majority of research on racial profiling center on traffic stops, the highway isn’t the only place profiling occurs. Consumer racial profiling — the act of discriminating against customers by retailers based upon their race or ethnicity — is another example.
“Not until after the civil rights movement could blacks even enter certain stores to get service. So we’re talking about fairly recent stuff, so why would we not expect that there would be problems in retail settings just as there are problems in traffic stops?” he said.
Gabbidon visited Pitt Oct. 10 to discuss his research, “Shopping Under Suspicion: Consumer Racial Profiling and Perceived Victimization in the City of Brotherly Love,” which was conducted with George Higgins of the University of Louisville. Gabbidon’s talk was hosted by the School of Social Work’s Center on Race and Social Problems.
Gabbidon said retail racism appears in two forms: lack of service and, more recently, minorities being stereotyped as shoplifters.
Business school research has examined customer service in relation to race, but there’s only a handful of scholarly literature on consumer racial profiling.
Citing a study in which researchers set up cameras in a drugstore to identify the characteristics of people who shoplift, Gabbidon said the research found that while “more people shoplift than we think,” minorities did not shoplift any more than other groups. “That’s a significant thing because we tend to rely on official data sources to determine who commits what offenses,” he said, noting that the official data statistics are “woefully inaccurate.” He said if profiling is occurring, more minorities are likely to be stopped, and consequently more people among those groups will be caught. “If you’re profiling, you’re likely to be stopping people you think are committing the offense. You’re focusing on one group, so your statistics are going to be skewed,” he said.
In choosing to concentrate his academic research on consumer racial profiling, Gabbidon drew upon his experience as a store detective at a suburban Baltimore department store. He said he noticed a trend in calls he’d receive from within the store. “I got a lot of calls about minorities going through the store. ‘Are you watching these individuals?’”
When he’d ask what they were doing, “They were just walking,” Gabbidon was told.“They really didn’t want to articulate what they thought was suspicious about these individuals,” he said.
A promotion took him to pricey Fairfax, Va., where, as the store’s assistant security manager, he was responsible for training new employees. “I’d talk about security, what to look for, the characteristics of people who might shoplift. I never said anything about race or anything like that,” but he’d still receive more calls about minorities. He said clerks are suspicious if a minority person walks into a Polo shop, as if minorities can’t afford Polo clothes.
Gabbidon recounted a time the store security office radioed him about a suspicious person in the store — only to realize by the description that Gabbidon himself was the man the nervous store clerk was reporting.
Gabbidon said the issue of retail racism really is two problems. One is that retailers lose huge amounts of money to theft. “The other problem is that people who walk into the store who are racial or ethnic minorities feel like they’re profiled. So we have those two competing things,” he said.
The underlying theory in his research is that labeling of people is based on stereotypes. “We attach races to particular types of crime,” he said. Stereotypes of the criminal black man persist. He cited an exercise he’s conducted on several college campuses in which he lists the eight most serious criminal offenses and asks students to attach the percentage of arrests they believe can be ascribed to each racial group. “In each case, everybody believes black people commit the most crimes in the United States,” he said. Until that misconception is corrected, profiling will continue, he said. Gabbidon’s research takes a holistic approach to the issue of consumer racial profiling, going beyond merely determining if it exists to discover how people react to the experience.
Gabbidon conducted a phone survey of nearly 500 people in Philadelphia, 47 percent black and 42.5 percent white. Forty-three percent reported they had experienced consumer racial profiling and, of these, 98 percent reported it had happened to them as an adult. Sixty-four percent said they experienced it occasionally, while 26 percent said it happened to them always or almost always.
Gabbidon found that men were twice as likely and blacks were 10 times more likely to report that they experienced consumer retail profiling. Interestingly, while household income did not seem to be a factor, respondents with more education were more likely to perceive themselves as victims of consumer racial profiling.
Department stores, grocery stores and clothing stores were most often noted as the places where the profiling occurred. In 57 percent of the reported incidents, the profiler was a clerk, not store security personnel. Most often, respondents reported being watched or followed throughout the store.
The survey found that profilers came from a variety of races. “It was not just a white person profiling a black person,” Gabbidon said. While 59 percent of the reported profilers were white, 24 percent were black, 11 percent were Asian and 5 percent Hispanic.
The vast majority of those who said they’d been profiled — 82 percent — said they didn’t report the incident. About half still made a purchase and 39 percent of the people said they would go back to the same store again. Seventy-two percent said they told family or friends about what had happened and, in 68 percent of those cases, “Most of them said they’d experienced it, too.”
Why don’t people report these incidents? “‘It’s not a big deal.’ That’s what they said,” Gabbidon reported. “They’ve normalized the treatment as part of the experience. You go into the store; this is what happens. You take care of your business and you leave.”
Gabbidon said he believes there are consequences to that choice, citing the emotional reactions of respondents. Eighty-eight percent said the experience made them angry; 62 percent said it was stressful. Other emotions respondents noted were sadness, shock and embarrassment. Twenty-nine percent said their self worth was impacted by the experience.
“If you internalize these things, it has a negative impact, physically, mentally and otherwise,” he said.
In his study, Gabbidon asked respondents what should be done about retail racial profiling. Almost half said some sort of training on the perils of profiling should be provided; 29 percent felt that diversifying the workforce could help and only 22 percent believed that the profilers should be fired. “People were concerned about the way in which they were treated, but they weren’t all willing to just fire employees. I think that probably a part of that has to do with the whole notion that they normalize it,” Gabbidon said. “In reality, if you’re paying a certain amount of money for a good and somebody else is paying a certain amount of money for the same good, shouldn’t you be getting the same treatment?” he asked. “You shouldn’t be followed around if other people aren’t followed around.”
Gabbidon noted that additional research needs to be done.
“One of the studies we need to do, one of the things we need to find out is where people get their ideas about race and crime. That is one of the problems because people bring their biases to work with them. That’s what it’s really about,” he said. “It’s not just the security person, it’s the clerk who makes the call because somewhere along the line they’ve gotten an idea about who shoplifts or who commits crime. Unless we correct these misguided ideas those calls are going to keep coming.”
Gabbidon said those who feel they’ve been profiled should take action. “You need to confront the retailers,” he said. “If you don’t file a report or complain to somebody, there’s no problem there. If those complaints mount, then somebody’s going to take action,” he said.
“If it’s something that made you uncomfortable, you have to let people know, ‘This is impacting on my shopping experience.’”
Racial profiling in traffic stops came to light because of lawsuits, he said, adding that getting retailers to change may be easier than changing government entities.
“If you hit retailers, it’s a little different than the government. This is a corporation that is in business to make money. And if there is anything that is stopping them from making money, they’re going to look at that. They have to look at it because they can’t exist without making money,” he said. —Kimberly K. Barlow
The Color of Money: Exposing marketplace discrimination, professor pursues equal treatment for all consumers
An African American woman, trying to redeem a coupon at the cosmetics counter of a major department store, has her shopping bag seized by security personnel, searched and emptied on the counter. A professional basketball player is kept waiting to be seated for almost an hour at a restaurant while white diners who arrived after were seated first. The venerable Oprah Winfrey fails to be buzzed in to a New York City store, even after seeing white women admitted and making a second attempt.
In the United States a dollar may be a dollar, but for African American and other minority consumers, a trip to the market to spend that dollar may offer a very different experience than that offered to white consumers. Often called “shopping while black,” marketplace discrimination remains a significant problem today.
“While most people think of ‘driving while black’ when the subject of racial profiling comes up, as that is what generally is in the news, the reality is that ‘shopping while black’ is a much more pervasive problem,” says Dr. Jerome Williams. “Minorities as shoppers are much
more likely to be subjected to these indignities on a day-to-day basis.”
Williams, the F.J. Heyne Centennial Professor in Communication in the Department of Advertising at The University of Texas at Austin, focuses his work on consumer racial profiling, offering expert testimony in court cases and working with other scholars across the country to better understand the problem.
Williams is clear that the problem is widespread. A survey he and a colleague conducted in 1997 found that 86 percent of African Americans believe they have been treated differently in retail stores because of their race. Other minority groups, including Latinos and increasingly people of Middle Eastern descent, also report facing discrimination in the marketplace. “If you’re a member of the majority group in this country, the assumption is that people, for the most part, are treated fairly,” Williams says. “But if you’re a member of the subordinate group and you have personal, day-to-day experience, you’ll see that this is not what actually happens.
“There’s still a great deal of discrimination and prejudice in society, and many times it is manifested in the marketplace.” Williams and colleagues, including Dr. Geraldine Henderson, associate professor in the Department of Advertising, have examined more than 80 federal court decisions involving customers’ allegations of racial or ethnic discrimination, in addition to 91 state
cases and 29 civil rights agency cases. The cases involved major retailers and small businesses, department stores, clothing stores, restaurants and airlines. The types of discrimination varied widely as well, from obvious to very subtle.
The most obvious way minorities face discrimination stems from the common misperception that minority consumers engage in more criminal activity than majority customers. As such, they are often placed under increased scrutiny in stores, being shadowed by security personnel or otherwise monitored. One store in Massachusetts refused African American customers larger shopping bags when purchasing items. “When you have a black shopper and a white shopper, each person
should be under surveillance equally,” Williams says. “But what you find is that African Americans and Latinos have been put under greater surveillance than whites.” Williams says his students add that young people can face the same situation, regardless of their race. Department store employees are sometimes told to watch young people more carefully when they come into the store.
There’s no basis for the assumption that minorities are engaging in more shoplifting than others, Williams has found. In fact, a University of Florida study determined employee theft accounts for a far greater portion of “shrinkage” at the nation’s 200 largest retailers than shoplifting. As such, retailers might be better off directing their resources at watching employees than having employees watch customers based on race, Williams says. Still, minority consumers face more subtle forms of discrimination, some of which draw incredulity from non minority people. They may be ignored by salespeople, made to wait longer for service, be asked more rigorous questions on applications or be denied service outright.
In one court case, a white woman took her two African American grandchildren and their mother on a weekend trip to the beach. She checked into a motel for two nights while the rest of the family remained in the car. They Dr. Jerome Williams, who holds joint appointments in the Center for African and African American Studies and the College of Communication, is working to build coalitions to end marketplace discrimination.
then deposited their bags in the room and headed for the outdoor pool. Within a few minutes, the desk clerk appeared and demanded that they leave immediately. He refused to respond to their repeated requests for an explanation.
“When you’re the victim, it can do a lot of damage,” Williams says. “There’s psychological damage and emotional cost, and if you have to file a lawsuit, there’s the financial cost as well. The impact can be very high, not to mention the loss of dignity.”
Further, the cost to businesses can be substantial. Williams has found that consumers who face discrimination respond in one of three ways. In many cases, they simply accept the treatment,
maintaining loyalty to the business and assuming the behavior is inevitable. In other cases, they speak up. They may complain to management or file a lawsuit.
Finally, they may choose to exit and not return. This can have a significant impact on businesses. Consumers of color constitute about one-third of the U.S. population and wield more than a trillion dollars of purchasing power, so the “exit” strategies consumers employ can have a serious impact on a company’s bottom line. This has proven to be the case in the past, when well-publicized charges against chain restaurants and department stores led nearly half of all minority customers to boycott the businesses.
“Consumers need to get equal treatment for equal dollars,” Williams says, “because if they don’t, they can take their dollars and go shop elsewhere. The ramifications for businesses are just tantamount to economic suicide if they don’t get their houses in order.”
For Williams, who lived through the Jim Crow era and can see firsthand how far the country has come, marketplace discrimination serves as a reminder that the work to be done regarding race in the U.S. is not complete.
“I think we’ve come a long way since Brown v. the Board of Education and since the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but I also recognize that we haven’t come far enough,” Williams says. “Sometimes we can get a little complacent and pat ourselves on the back and say, ‘Boy, we’ve really accomplished a lot.’ But we see the vestiges of those times in many places, and we need to deal with them.”
To do so, Williams recognizes it’s important to keep a focus on the issue. He is seeking funding and working to create a Center for Studying Marketplace Discrimination. Operating on a national level, the center would conduct research on marketplace discrimination and help policymakers develop legislation that addresses racial profiling.
The laws related to marketplace discrimination have not caught up to where we are as a society, Williams says. They hearken back to the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which sought to ensure that “a dollar in the hands of a Negro will purchase the same thing as a dollar in the hands of a white” person and to the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s. Both provide for unintended loopholes.
“The laws sometimes allow defendants to skirt or escape well deserved penalties,” Williams says. “For example, there may be a situation where the law says you cannot discriminate in a place of public accommodation.’ But if the type of business is not listed as one of the places of public accommodation, the law doesn’t apply.”
Thus, working with policymakers is important. Williams believes
working with businesses is also. He sees himself as a coalition builder and has collaborated with major companies to help them set up training programs for their employees. He recognizes that business cannot control the levels of prejudice that people bring with them to a job, but they can control whether or not they’re tolerated in the workplace.
“I’m not here to make villains out of the marketers,” he says. “I’m a marketer by training. This is what I do. I’m here to help marketers better serve their customers. So if this is a problem, they need to look at the type of work they’re doing to remedy it.”
Ultimately, ending marketplace discrimination is the work of businesses, policymakers and consumers themselves, who need to speak up with both their voices and their money. The work of the Civil Rights movement isn’t complete, Williams says, until people can trust that in the country’s businesses a dollar is a dollar and a consumer is a consumer, regardless of his or her race.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Consumer Racial Profiling and Perceived Victimization:
An Examination of the Factors that Influence Self-Esteem
Based on data collected from a random digit dialing (RDD) phone survey, the we examined the factors (i.e., sex, race, age, and income level) that may influence an individuals’ level of self-esteem given the perception of consumer racial profiling.
The research found that African-Americans were more likely than non-African-Americans to believe they had been victims of CRP. As for gender differences, males were nearly two times more likely than females to report that they had been victims of CRP. Income level had the largest effect on self-esteem. The authors conclude by noting the policy implications of the research findings.
George E. Higgins, Ph.D.
Department of Justice Administration
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292
Phone: (502) 852-0331
Fax: (502) 852-0065
Shaun L. Gabbidon, Ph.D.**
Penn State Harrisburg
School of Public Affairs
777 W. Harrisburg Pike
Middletown, PA 17057
(717) 948-6320 (fax)
Source of Information:
Chris McGoey is the President of Aegis Books, Inc., and does business as McGoey Security Consulting for the past twenty-four years. He has hosted the Crime Doctor Website online since 1996 as a community service by providing practical advice about security, crime, loss prevention, and avoiding liability. His office is located near Los Angeles, California.
Does Profiling Exist?
The media often asks me if retail store security personnel use “profiling” tactics as a means of determining which customers are most likely to steal. The answer is undeniably, yes.
Profiling is a Tool
The concept of shoplifter profiling is a proven loss prevention tool and is currently being practiced in most major retail stores by trained loss prevention or security staff. Does that seem shocking? It shouldn't, as long as it doesn't include the discriminatory practice of focusing on the race of the customer alone. Profiling is used everyday as a method for quickly focusing in on a person, a product line or a section of a store most likely to contribute to shoplifting. All investigative agencies including the police, FBI, and others have used profiling as a tool to narrow the field of possible suspects. Why shouldn't retail store security be able to do the same? Store and customer profiles are developed during day-to-day operation and by collecting and analyzing inventory data. This data provides both a quantitative and a qualitative basis for determining where, when, how, and by whom shoplifting is likely to occur in the future.
A progressive retailer has numerous inventory controls in effect and at several levels. Every store should know what departments and which product lines have the greatest inventory loss based on audits, product movement analysis reports, shoplifter apprehensions, and by finding signs of theft. Professional retail loss prevention personnel are trained to know what day of the week, what time of day, what product lines, and what department will have the most shoplifting activity. Armed with this data, loss prevention personnel set out to observe shopper “conduct” in the most active areas and during the most active times. Profiling like this makes perfect business sense because it is legal and a good business practice.
There are other types of profiling based on store apprehension histories and industry experience that has taught LP professionals who to "include" and who to "exclude" when scanning the store for potential shoplifters. For example, one profile is that people rarely shoplift while in the presence of their spouse, significant other, or parents. After scanning these persons they might quickly be bypassed as theft candidates. Shoplifting is a crime of opportunity and desire. Trained loss prevention staff will spend most of their time observing those customers whose conduct demonstrates both opportunity and desire. For example, a customer standing alone in a remote aisle, carrying a large empty shopping bag, and looking from side-to-side would be immediately suspicious until their conduct proves otherwise.
A customer wearing tattered shoes might appear suspicious in a self-service shoe department until their conduct disproved a lack of desire to steal. A customer walking across a store carrying a small electronic item partially concealed in the palm of their hand might seem suspicious until several opportunities passed to conceal the product. In contrast, a customer wearing tailored shorts and a t-shirt may have the desire to steal, but will have little opportunity to conceal a large item of merchandise they are carrying. Based on profiling and shopper conduct, the professional plain-clothes security officer will scan thousands of customers a day and determine that 99% of them are legitimate shoppers.
Surveillance is Necessary
Believe me, merchants don’t like monitoring their customers to prevent theft, but they know that it’s a matter of economic survival. Merchants know that closely watching customers is bad public relations if done crudely. However, the retail industry loses over 31.3-Billion dollars every year and shoplifting represents about one-third of it. Customer surveillance is limited to the public areas where there is no expectation of privacy as opposed to inside fitting rooms and restrooms that are considered private areas. Knowing that you are under surveillance is an uneasy feeling. No one likes being watched and being made to feel like you’re not trustworthy. However, if trained professionals do the surveillance properly, most people will never realize they were observed while shopping. A problem can arise when untrained or unqualified security, loss prevention or off-duty police undertake the task of store surveillance. The majority of the complaints of racial profiling that I have seen in retail stores have to do with the perception of being stalked throughout the store in an effort to intimidate them into leaving.
Racial profiling is an improper and illegal practice based on the mistaken belief that certain ethnic groups are more likely to shoplift than others. Because of this, misguided store employees will focus their surveillance time on the customer's “color” rather than “conduct”. Racial bias can blind store personnel and cause them to monitor only the ethic minorities and ignore the real source of their inventory losses. Racial profiling eventually leads to a pattern of false theft accusations, wrongful detentions, and harassment when no real probable cause exists. The result is that a particular ethic group will be made to feel like they can't be trusted and are unwelcome in the store. African Americans call it "shopping while black". Unless the wrongful conduct is corrected by management, civil rights violations will occur and false arrest lawsuits will follow and sorely damage the reputation of the retailer.
Customer surveillance based solely on the race of a customer is not only improper but is an ineffective method of controlling losses due to shoplifting. The thought of racial profiling is distasteful. A 1999 Gallup poll confirmed that 81% of Americans disapprove of the practice. Despite this belief, the same poll indicated that 75% of African American men said they had been victims of racial profiling while shopping.
Most major retailers have published policies against discriminatory acts but few that I've seen specifically address racial profiling by it's security personnel. Not surprisingly, incidents are occurring, which feeds the question of how much racial profiling exists in retail stores? For example, in one major department store the security staff used radio codes (code 3) as an alert anytime a black shopper came into the area. In another store, 90% of the shoplifting apprehensions were of ethnic customers where the store demographic reports only showed a 15% minority customer base. And in still another store, sales associates were told by security officers to call them anytime an ethnic minority entered their sales area.
Hiring, Training, Supervision
The only way to eliminate racial profiling is to prohibit it from the top. Retail stores need to have clearly defined and articulated policies against security staffers practicing racial profiling and must have a zero tolerance for abuse. The hiring process is a good time to screen out poor candidates that seem predisposed to prejudice. Comprehensive retail security training is absolutely necessary to assure that employees know how to do the job appropriately and understand the rules of conduct. Off-duty police officers working as security need training too. You can't assume that they understand the law or will act appropriately and fairly towards all customers especially in the retail setting. Off duty police officers must follow store rules when on the clock and not resort to street tactics when dealing with store customers. During the training phase new loss prevention personnel should be taught how to observe customer conduct and not base surveillance decisions solely on the race of the customer. Supervisors should always be on the lookout for signs of racial prejudice in day-to-day conversation and in written reports. Violations should be addressed swiftly. If racial profiling becomes a factor in security staff surveillance and detentions, it’s because store management didn’t care enough to correct the problem or instead chose to ratify the behavior.
For More Information:
- Shoplifting Articles
- Shoplifting: Facts
- Shoplifting: Probable Cause
- Shoplifting: Detention & Arrest
- Shoplifting: False Arrest
- Shoplifting: False Imprisonment
- Shoplifting: Excessive Use of Force
- Loss Prevention Exit Bag Checks
- See also, Racial Profiling Terrorists
- Employee Theft
Shoplifting Retail Racial Profiling
False Arrest Claims
A retail store makes a choice when it decides to apprehend and arrest those who attempt to steal their merchandise. Making that choice creates a legal responsibility of doing it correctly. This involves the proper hiring, training, and supervising those who make shoplifter apprehensions and arrests. In the retail loss prevention profession, the possibility of falsely accusing and detaining a customer for theft is a business reality that must be addressed.
In the United States, citizens value their civil liberties and constitutional rights and don't appreciate submitting to unlawful seizure and search. Because of this, there has been a legal trend of suing the retail store anytime a customer is wrongfully accused of shoplifting. In recognition of this, the retail security and loss prevention industry have developed six universally accepted steps to minimize the potential for a false arrest claim.They are:
- You must see the shoplifter approach the merchandise
- You must see the shoplifter select the merchandise
- You must see the shoplifter conceal, convert or carry away the merchandise
- You must maintain continuous observation of the shoplifter
- You must observe the shoplifter fail to pay for the merchandise
- You must apprehend the shoplifter outside the store
If these six steps are followed, false arrest situations and subsequent lawsuits will be almost nonexistent. These six steps were designed to establish a high degree of probable cause for detention and arrest of a person suspected of shoplifting. If one of these steps is skipped, the chance for false arrest increases proportionately. If two or more steps are skipped, the store personnel are acting recklessly towards customers and are exposing the store unnecessarily to liability and false arrest claims. Remember, state law may not require this high degree of care for criminal prosecution.
The word "false arrest" is very distasteful to the retail industry, so it has created several alternate words to describe the event. Less offensive words are used instead like "non-productive detention" or "unproductive stop" or "investigative detention". All of these words have been used in place of false arrest so not to seemingly admit liability. Whatever the terminology, if you stop a customer that is not holding stolen merchandise, you have the potential for a false arrest claim.
Many states have enacted legislation to protect the merchant from such false arrest claims by allowing the store to make "investigative detentions" of a customer suspected of shoplifting. In these jurisdictions, the law allows certain latitude or "merchant's privilege" if the merchant has a reasonable belief that a customer has stolen merchandise. In many jurisdictions, law allows the merchant to detain a customer for a reasonable time, and in a reasonable manner, for the purpose recovering the stolen merchandise or for summoning the police.
The problem with these statutes is that they are vague as to what "reasonable" means and what the word "detain" means. Some merchants have overly relied on this statutory language to protect them from lawsuit only to discover later that it would not relieve them of liability.
In most jurisdictions, a reasonable belief that someone has shoplifted does not include a stranger’s observation and report. Customers are often unreliable in what they report and it is considered unreasonable to detain and accuse someone of theft based solely on a customer observation. Besides, the customer and shoplifter could be working together to set up the store for a false arrest claim. Untrained sales associates can also be unreliable in their observations. Many store chains do not allow apprehensions on the word of a sales associate alone.
While detaining someone, you must do so in a reasonable manner. Tackling and injuring a customer in the parking lot over suspected petty theft might be deemed excessive, especially if no other means of detention were attempted first. Detentions must also be for a reasonable time period. Holding someone for three hours while you investigate a check, credit card, coupon, or refund fraud attempt is excessive. Some jurisdictions have a problem with police response times that may take over two hours to respond to your store. This business reality must be factored into the store policy of detaining shoplifters or releasing them after recovering the merchandise.
Hiring & Training
The best way to limit false arrest situations is hiring, training, and supervising competent staff. It is usually considered negligent management to have a policy of apprehension and arrest of shoplifters if the store personnel have no training on how to do so correctly. It is also negligent management if you fail to supervise loss prevention staff and their reports that indicates violations of company policy, violation of the civil rights of customers, or use of excessive force.
Use of Force
It is usually considered negligence if a store employee uses excessive force when apprehending a suspected shoplifter. It requires special training to understand how to routinely apprehend shoplifters while only using minimal force. Tackling, punching, and verbal abuse of shoplifters are never acceptable. Excessive or unreasonable use of handcuffs, leg restraints, chokeholds, or pain compliance holds are also inappropriate when dealing with those suspected of retail theft.
You run the risk of a false arrest claim when you:
- Don’t observe the customer approach a display
- Don’t observe the merchandise being selected from the display
- Don’t see the merchandise being concealed, carried away or converted (i.e. eaten etc)
- Don’t maintain continuous observation and the shoplifter dumps the item
- Don’t watch the check stand and verify the non-payment of the item
- Don’t detain the shoplifter outside the store (or at least past the last register)
- Don’t detain only the person directly responsible for the theft
To avoid other related claims:
- Approach from the front (so the shoplifter doesn’t think you’re a robber)
- Have at least one witness of the same sex present at all times
- Have at least one more backup than the number of shoplifters
- Clearly identify yourself as the store representative or security officer
- State the reason for the detention and ask for the item back
- Don’t be afraid to immediately disengage and apologize if you make a mistake
- Listen for spontaneous utterances (i.e. "I forgot to pay for it")
- Closely escort the shoplifter to a private office
- Do not chase the shoplifter through the store
- Always be polite and professional even if the shoplifter is not
- Do not use excessive force (i.e. double lock handcuffs)
- Do not make threats or exchange insults
- Accommodate reasonable medical and handicap requests
- Process the arrest swiftly according to store policy
- Save, tag, and photograph the stolen merchandise as evidence
- Cooperate with the police and appear in court, if necessary
For More Information:
- Shoplifting Articles
- Shoplifting: Facts
- Shoplifting: Probable Cause
- Shoplifting: Detention & Arrest
- Shoplifting: False Imprisonment
- Shoplifting: Excessive Use of Force
- Loss Prevention Exit Bag Checks
- Employee Theft