Study: Majority of Black shoppers have been racially profiled

ATLANTA — A newly released study finds the majority of Black shoppers say they’ve been racially profiled in a retail setting at least once.

The report, released by the web site dealaid.org, questioned more than 1,000 shoppers who identify as being Black or African-Americans, and 90 percent of those who responded said they had experienced retail racism.

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“There have been times where I felt a little uneasy,” Ashley Harris, a Black woman who lives in Chamblee, told Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik. “It’s very disheartening to see that, you know, that’s still happening. You think that, you know, we’ve come to a place where we shouldn’t be at this point anymore. But it’s, it’s believable.”

The founder of dealaid.org told Petchenik the findings were staggering to him.

“The folks that experienced these microaggressions had everything from being followed around a store to being told to go to a sale section, even though they weren’t looking for it,” said Serg Rudak.

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Rudak said 51 percent of the incidents happened in large department stores.

“It starts really, at the executive and management levels of large corporations...with systematic diversity training. They really need to adjust.”

Petchenik spoke to the National Retail Federation’s head of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Leon Buck said the federation, which is the trade group that represents most major retailers, is working to combat the issue.

“The first thing you can do is hire a diverse workforce and retain your workforce and promote them,” he told Petchenik. “People are leaving and coming and coming and going, you really can’t really identify good, competent people in order and the people who are there, sort of promote within, and then you can, you can sort of ensure diversity.”

Buck said 88% of retail management is white.

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“Now we’re being more proactive,” he said. “Now virtually all the companies have not only a diversity officer in management, but a diversity budget dedicated to solving the problem and to really understanding what it means to have inclusion and equity.”

Buck said that includes conscious and unconscious bias training for all workers at every level.

“You gain not only diversity, but understanding,” he said. And I think, yes, that affects the bottom line.”

Shopper Ashley Harris said she welcomes the changes.

“I will say like taking accountability, stepping out of your comfort zone, approaching people, not thinking the worst with everyone that you come across,” she said. “I mean, there are bad people in this world, but not everyone is.”