Shopping while black in Sarasota problematic

December 3, 2013 

Earlier this month I purchased a mink coat from a store in Sarasota. Later realizing the electronic security tag was still on the coat, I went to the store to have the tag removed and I was racially profiled.

I explained this to the sales clerk; she explained it to another sales clerk who in turn called the floor manager.

Moments later an elderly white female ironically presented the exact same problem. It shocked me when one of the sales clerks took the coat, removed the tag and sent the woman away. I stood there in total disbelief waiting for the manager -- to prove I purchased my coat.

As I was now being interrogated about my purchase, fortunately, I made the purchase with my debit card and was able to prove by showing my bank records on my cell phone.

The problem that I have is not the fact that I needed to prove my purchase; nor the fact that I spent 45 minutes in the store proving it. My problem is the fact that two customers with the same dilemma were treated totally different.

I am a highly educated, tax-paying 55-year-old black female who is a very active and productive member of society, specifically in Sarasota and Manatee counties. It astonished me that people are not respected and trusted equally. I see this in the work environments, schools and other parts of our society.

I'm so disappointed in that store. I've raised three sons in Sarasota. This behavior saddens me as my grandchildren spend time with me here. Is it a right or a privilege to have the expectation of being treated equally or do we continue to live with these types of double standards?

Elma J. Browning-McKay

Sarasota

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