The number of African Americans reporting racial profiling incidents is on the rise since two Black men were arrested last month at a Philadelphia Starbucks for Sitting While Black.
Recently, a nationally known motivational speaker called out a manager at a Sambuca 360 restaurant in Plano, Texas for threatening to call the cops on him and his wife out after they sat down to enjoy a meal. Johnny Wimbrey was asked to move to another table to make room for a regular customer who was White. When he questioned the move, he was called a trespasser.
In the retail clothing industry, two African-American girls were asked to leave a Fuego store in Tacoma, Washington earlier this week after they questioned why a manager was talking about theft procedures outside of the dressing rooms. Simone Intrepid Gamble, one of the girls, posted an incident video early Tuesday (May 8) morning.
Three young Black men were also falsely accused of stealing at Nordstrom Rack in Brentwood, Missouri. Employees profiled Mekhi Lee, 19, and high school students Eric Rogers and Dirone Taylor as they shopped for prom clothes on Thursday. The police were told that the Black men were shoplifting, but they took nothing.
The big question is: What patterns can be drawn from these stories about racist encounters, which are mainly playing out in restaurants and retail stores?
Often these narratives are shared through video, many of which are taken from cell phones and go viral. Case in point: Wimbrey’s cell video of the Sambuca manager chastising him garnered the attention of social justice columnist Shaun King, who shared it and sparked tons of upset comments.
It is also important to consider the narrative’s details: the who, when, where and what happened. A lot of these details find their way onto platforms such as Yelp. Many people now check review sites to see the ratings and customer experiences at certain restaurants, noticing the racist red flags raised by customers.
Law enforcement roles in these encounters are critical when considering systematic problems involving African Americans and police. Aside from retail stores and restaurants, African Americans are also profiled when it comes to police traffic stops. Stanford University researchers found that Black drivers are more likely to be pulled over than White motorists. The university’s Open Policing Project last year covered more than 60 million stops conducted by state highway patrol agencies in 20 states.
The research supports the stories of targeted customers, confirming that systematic problems must be dealt with in order to stop racial profiling.