The large u.s. distribution, haunted by the spectre of racism

La grande distribution américaine hantée par le spectre du racisme

In full wave of protests against racism and police violence in the United States, the major chains stores have multiplied the messages for equality and justice on the social networks.

But these publications, which are the result of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, have aroused the scepticism of clients from visible minorities.

The control on the facies (” racial profiling “) — known on the internet under the hashtag #shoppingwhileblack — is a thorny problem that the sector has largely chosen to avoid addressing these last days, merely releases denouncing racism and pledging a greater diversity in positions of leadership.

Many customers blacks and latinos say they feel monitored and treated differently from whites.

Jerome Williams, who is African-American and teaches the trade at Rutgers University, remembers an episode in the 1980’s where three of his children were not returned to the rendez-vous point after a spree in a shopping mall.

After being concerned, Mr. Williams had learned that his children were detained by security officers who felt that the child suspects because they wore T-shirts new.

Even beyond the incident, Mr Williams said he was disturbed by the response of her white colleagues, deeming the case to be anecdotal.

Since that time, ” there has been enormous progress, but it has not eliminated the problem “, writes the academic, who advises companies on these issues.

The the civil rights activists hope that the present movement will lead to a change in many areas.

“Business leaders must do more than publish press releases condemning racism,” advance Dariely Rodriguez, Project manager for the Economic Justice within the organization for the protection of minorities “Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law “.

According to Ms. Rodriguez, these leaders “must adhere to long-standing requests of the activists to dismantle the structural racism” by addressing the discrimination, wage, by promoting non-whites to positions of leadership and ” in eradicating racial discrimination against customers and employees black. “

Wednesday, Walmart announced that it would stop it to put in display cases locked its beauty products and hair care ” multicultural “, a practice considered to be discriminatory by several customers.

Controlling behaviours

The Face of shoplifting, which costs the sector billions of dollars every year, big brands encourage the controls, but on the basis of conduct and not of ethnicity.

Suspicious behaviour are detailed in employee handbooks, whether it’s a client that makes the tour of the store, another which avoids the need to cross the eyes or a barge that watches the security cameras.

In many cases, these manuals advise against formally control the facies, ” explains Read Hayes, director of the Loss Prevention Research Council, a research group supported by the sector.

Mr. Hayes, however, believed that this practice continues to exist, so ” isolated “.

“It’s a real taboo to do this kind of things, but some people still make mistakes,” he said.

In 2014, the State of New York has imposed a fine of $ 650 000 to macy’s and demanded an independent audit of three years after an investigation showing that the non-whites were apprehended and falsely accused in proportions much higher than the customers white.

In April 2018, the arrest of two black men in a Starbucks in Philadelphia was making a lot of noise, leading the group to close its 8,000 cafes in the United States during an afternoon to be followed to its employees a training seminar in racial diversity.

The following month, the president of Nordstrom Rack had gone to St. Louis to apologize to the three young black men falsely accused of shoplifting.

Macy’s and Nordstrom, which have not responded to the requests of the AFP, have condemned the death of George Floyd and advocated for greater diversity within the sector.

What to do ?

According to Shaun Gabbidon, professor at Penn State Harrisburg and author of a new book on the subject, the signs have not taken account of its recommendations for release figures on arrests in the store.

“The problem is that when there is an incident highly publicized, no one has enough data to know if it is or is not an isolated event “, he explains.

The experts also believe that employees should be encouraged to discuss issues of race without fear of reprisal.

“There is no shame in having prejudices “, says Anne-Marie Hakstian, a professor at Salem State University. “What is important is to recognize these biases and not act on them,” advocates-t-it.

“The problem is much broader than the large-scale distribution. This is obviously a societal issue, ” adds Ms. Hakstian.

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