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Shopping while black, let’s talk about that.

Every time it hits the news, every time it happens; even when it’s someone famous, there are people who loath to believe that this even happens in America and because we’re so skeptical that it happens, we perpetuate it even encourage it.

In our personal lives, some of us believe these people are exaggerating or embellishing the circumstances or may be seeking publicity.

Trust me; this is not the publicity anyone wants, not the accuser nor the accused.

In the news business we always want to wait to report such stories until there is a response from the accused, the police department, or the store and so on.

Fair enough in principle but having been in the game from more than 20 years, we rarely if ever await responses from all parties involved before reporting a story. We’d never get anything on the air.

So, take a moment to listen please. I have some unique insight on this particular issue of shopping while black. Why? I’m black.

I work in media and have since 1991, 22 years. I know what happens in newsrooms when someone, some organization, or some company is accused of racial profiling.

I have been racially profiled myself “shopping while black”; just Google it.

So here are five things for America to think about when it comes to racial profiling, especially when it comes to racial profiling in stores, “shopping while black”:

1. It is one of the most degrading things that can happen to you.  To spend your hard-earned money, or try to spend it, and then have someone basically tell you that you don’t deserve to be able to spend that money because of who you are and how you look, it’s awful.

2. It happens, it happens more than we or any of us, no matter our ethnicity would like to admit.

3.  This isn’t something that people of color, especially African-Americans make up. No one boasts of being humiliated.

4.  Stop being so skeptical about it!  Stop denying it, it’s insulting and it perpetuates the insanity.

5.  The people who do steal or defraud department stores or hard-earned merchants only perpetuate the cycle of stereotyping and profiling.

While no one should or deserves to be profiled; the African-Americans and Hispanics and the white people who do steal, make it bad for those of us who don’t. They also contribute to the problem

If a security guard or store clerk constantly witnesses young white kids or young Asian kids stuffing things into their backpacks, right or wrong, they’re going to look suspiciously on those particular demographics. It’s human nature.

So the solution is that skeptical white people must open their minds to the reality that shopping while black happens and it happens A LOT.

And people of color must open their minds to the reality that while it’s dreadful to be profiled, there are factors beyond racism which contribute to the profiling problem.

And on a lighter note to end this commentary; just something for you to think about; to be fair I don’t like to tell anybody how to spend their money, they can spend it whatever they want but here’s the truth: you know who buys $300 dollar belts and $3000 purses, people who don’t have real money or wealth.

19 thoughts on “DON LEMON: 5 Things for Americans to Know About Racial Profiling

  1. Lemon did it again! Making the same faulty ASSumptions that keeps his shuck jiving. Why are we minimizing the issue of two black teens being victims of racism to draw attention to their personal splurges?

    Perhaps if Kayla and Trayon did not live outside of Manhattan then we as a community (and those outside of our community) would stop unfairly criticizing them for their splurges. Guess what: We ALL splurge. Even us college students. Anyway, Classism is just as alive as racism. ‘Merica!

  2. I think Don is concern about the black race although he is black! It see Don from the time I hear him on CNN he perplexed about the black community! In his status being a journalist he’s I image hardly in the black surrounding community (live in the hood) but feels obligated to help his race! Don please let me know if that’s true!

    • jean: I’m totally perplexed as to what your comments mean. Are you saying just because he doesn’t live in the hood, he can’t be concerned about the black community? Again…your comments aren’t clear. I don’t live in the hood, and haven’t lived in the hood since I was 19…many years ago; but I’ve always been concerned (and volunteered in the hood). Just because someone doesn’t live in the hood doesn’t mean they can’t relate

  3. Thank you Don! Yes its seem as if my child was white and he goes into a major retail store and say he or she about 20 and they are fairly dressed properly they can walk all over they store with be questioned or noticed! But. when a black kid or Hispanic comes in fairly dressed security all of sudden perk up and the red light goes off! They are watched from the time they entered from time they leave the store!!! Hopefully they won’t make a wrong move like trying to see all they look in a certain item innocently!!! It goes on all of the time just getting a attention to it!!!

  4. Why was Don Lemon even chosen to be the commentator. Every commentary that he has done, he has insulted black people. Tom Joyner, Sybil, and Jay please find a new commentator!

    • San: Just because you feel “insulted” doesn’t mean that every one that reads his articles feel insulted. For sure every one has a different perspective, and I think his commentary is great.

  5. Don Lemon has inspired me to share my ‘How To Shop While Black’ suggestion. I actually did this while school shopping with my daughter in Dillards. When I realized we were being followed by store security simply walked up to him and asked if he would please take our jackets and selected clothing items to the dressing room for me. HE DID IT, TOO!!! Lemons to Lemonade! (no pun intended Don Lemon)

    • Ruth O'hara on said:

      While the store security focuses on African American shoppers, the White thieves have a field day! This has been shown on talk shows and news programs like 20/20 who did investigative reports on the subject. To people of all colors know this, there IS a God to whom we must all answer who says, thou shall not steal, and you must love your neighbor as yourself (regardless of ethnicity) and ‘God is not partial! so we should not discriminate either

  6. Don Lemon, Don Lemon, Don Lemon – come on man!!! You are definitely right about one thing – you should not tell others how to spend their money. You last statement about ‘people who spend $300 dollar belts and $3000 purses, are people who don’t have real money or wealth’ is in fact a perpetuation of a myth and stereotype.

    I posted a comment before about students who attend the rather prestigious college where I work. Here is the one thing that is the truth: YOU SIMPLY CAN NOT TELL JUST BY LOOKING AT A PERSON WHO IS WEALTHY AND WHO IS NOT! That is the entire essence of the Shopping While Black issue. These people were judge by their appearance. That is the problem.

    You see, Don Lemon, I too have been followed around an upscale department store by store security while shopping. Why was I there – no, not to pay big money for clothing. BUT BECAUSE THEY HAD A SALE AND A DARNED GOOD ONE. You see Don Lemon, I like quality clothing, I like saving money, I manage my finances. But now here is something that is really gonna rock your boat Don Lemon – I have been followed by store security at the following stores: Wal-Mart and Ace Hardware!!!

    You see, the problem was not that I did or did not have lots of money. It only became a problem when I walked my black face into the store and the sales staff and security made a judgment before I even picked up a blouse off the rack, a package of copy paper, and a paint sample!!! The circumstance of why I am in the store making a purchase is not the problem. When I went to the hardware store I had a $30,000 budget for home renovations due to storm damage on my house. But who cares about that when all a sales clerk or security guard sees is a black face?! So come on Don Lemon, you can do a better job than this essay you’ve written.

    • Cris: You may have disposable income; but in keeping it real lots of people that buy high end items don’t have disposable income. That’s what Don is eluding to, and I agree 100%. Lots of people live beyond their means living from paycheck to paycheck. It makes absolutely no sense for someone to pay $3,000 for a purse, and they don’t have but $20 in the purse, and nothing in a savings account (because they depleted the acct to buy a $3,000 buy). Obviously he’s not referring to people that can afford the purchase. And as you eluded to; no one can REALLY tell how much money one has by looking at them on the surface. I always think of Warren Buffett. He drove an old pickup truck, and lived in a modest house for years. Probably why he has billions….in that he didn’t squander his money. For the record his wife finally convinced him to buy a decent car, and to upgrade their home; but Buffet is intelligent enough to not squander his money on nonsense just to try, and impress other people (which by the way the Jones that some people try to impress, are also trying to impress others)

      • But Joy, when Don Lemon made the very general comment about people not having money to splurge, he was in fact making the assumption that that is the case with most all people. There really are many people of all ethnicities that really have that kind of money to spend on those kind of items. And if nothing else, as a journalist with over 20 years experience, he should know better. But even more so, he himself was indicating that all us black folks should not spend money in this manner; not because they can or cannot afford to, but simply because they are black. He was really making a point that supported what the sales person at Barney’s and the security/police made by detaining the customers.

  7. darkandlovely on said:

    I was with Don until he said “you know who buys $300 dollar belts and $3000 purses, people who don’t have real money or wealth.” Oprah comes to mind. Unless he thinks Oprah doesn’t have real money or wealth. He didn’t do his homework on this. And people have a right to do whatever they want with their hard earned dollars.

    • dark: And I was with you until I figured out that it appears you don’t realize that Don was making a general comment. Obviously Oprahs of the world can afford high end items; but that’s not who he’s referring to. He’s referring to people that live beyond their means. And whether we want to admit it, or not; lots of people live beyond their means. Living payday to payday…with nothing to spare

      • I said it. on said:

        Girl, he said the only people who buy…, so stop trying to interpret and rationalize his comments. Would you both have me to believe that only people who buy high end items are people with low incomes? How would companies stay in business if that was so? Warren Buffet spent his money how he wanted to. That’s his business and it worked for him, but that’s not the only way. Be your own person and stop trying to emulate those who wouldn’t give you a second glance. Also, who says that just because someone is AA and in college, or AA in general they aren’t financially stable? Don needs to go and write for the other minority group he belongs to for awhile. He has insulted our intelligence enough, for awhile.

  8. Tonia Ladner on said:

    I know that shopping while black happens often to African Americans in our society, but it is now time for it to STOP! Why is it that our people that think they have a little wealth or privileges are always the first to call for the African American people to “Change” in order to receive acceptance in American society. Shame on us. THIS IS AMERICA AND I CAN SPEND MY MONEY ON ANYTHING AND IN ANYWAY THAT I LIKE!!! HOW DARE WE FIND A WAY TO BLAME THE VICTIMS! IF THAT WOMEN WANTED A $2500 PURSE THAT IS HER RIGHT AS AN AMERICAN CITIZEN. SHE DID NOT STEAL IT, SHE BROUGHT IT! IT SICKENS ME THAT WE ARE ALWAYS APOLOGIZING TO WHITE AMERICAN FOR BEING WHO WE ARE!! SHAME ON THE BLACK COMMUNITY FOR SAYING THAT SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE PURCHASED THAT PURSE AS IF IT IS NOT HER RIGHT. WAKE UP BLACK AMERICANS STOP FALLING FOR THE BANANA IN THE TAIL PIPE JUST BECAUSE YOU FEEL THAT YOU ARE NOW A MEMBER OF THE HAVES AND YOU WANT TO LEAVE THE HAVE NOTS IN THE DUST. I SAY THAT IF SHE HAD THE MONEY TO BUY THE PURSE THE STORE SECURITY SHOULD HAVE LEFT HER ALONE. BECAUSE THEY DID NOT, THEY ARE IN VIOLATION OF HER RIGHTS. END OF STORY,

    • I usally am all-caps deaf, but in this case it is needed. Victim blaming. Victim blaming. Victim blaming. It’s their money, end of story. Not my business, Don Lemon’s business, any poster on here who agrees with Don Lemon business, Tom Joyner’s business, President Obama’s business or anyone else but their’s as to how or WHY these people spend their money.
      Tom, Jay and Sybil you’ve lost a listener during Don Lemon’s time segment. I know it’s a ratings grab, and I pray it’s not working. Just too much.

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