Shocking Policy From a Store Still Called 'Banana Republic'
Here is a story about a happy 19-year-old women from White Plains, New York. She worked in Westchester Mall at the high-end casual apparel store Banana Republic. The key word here: “worked.”
Her sensibilities were offended after a Banana Republic manager told her that her look didn’t fit in well with the brand. With her job subtly threatened, she did what all modern-day teenagers do… She vented to the internet. She presented her case to the world wide web, and it totally had her back. The world believes she was horribly wronged.
A Shocking Scene
Destiny Tompkins had been working at Banana Republic for about a month when an unnamed district manager stopped in to check things out.
As per Destiny’s viral Facebook post:
“So today I went into work, and after the district manager (a white woman) popped in for a visit, I was told to go to the office to speak with my manager, Michael (Mike), who is a white man. I came in and he questioned me about the dress code and immediately, I thought there was something wrong with my outfit, but he sat me down and questioned my hair instead. He told me that my braids were not Banana Republic appropriate and that they were too ‘urban’ and ‘unkempt’ for their image. He said that if I didn’t take them out then he couldn’t schedule me for shifts until I did.”
Destiny, as well as sensible people everywhere, was shocked by the disciplinary action taken against her.
“When I tried to explain to him that it was a protective style for my hair because it tends to become really brittle in the cold,” she continued. “He recommended that I use shea butter for it instead.”
Not only was Destiny offended, she was so uncomfortable with the manager’s ultimatum that she left before her shift was over.
“I have never been so humiliated and degraded in my life by a white person. In that moment, I felt so uncomfortable and overwhelmed that I didn’t even finish my work shift and ended up leaving. When my friend’s mom called the store to find out my manager’s last name, he refused to give it to her. Box braids are not a matter of unprofessionalism, they are protective styles black women have used for their hair and to be discriminated against because of it is truly disgusting and unacceptable. There’s no reason why a white person should feel allowed to tell me that I can’t wear my hair the way that I want because it’s too black for their store image.
A majority of black people tend to have much kinkier, curlier texture…. The sun helps our curls flourish in the summer and keeps our hair moisturized, which is necessary to keep it healthy. The cold weather tends to make our hair brittle and cause breakage and loss of hair, which is why we style our hair with braids. I don’t think anyone’s natural hair should ever be seen as ‘unkempt.’ It’s discriminatory to tell anyone the hair they were born with looks ‘unprofessional’ [and to tell] people who use protective styles like braids to maintain the health of their hair that it’s too ‘urban’ for their store brand. It’s incredibly racist.”
Not Our Policy
If something like this happens once, it is happening too often. With the post being shared tons of times, people were rightfully outraged that this happened. Glamour Magazine and other outlets reached out to Destiny to focus more attention on Banana Republic’s act of racism.
After Banana Republic started getting backlash for their discrimination with calls for widespread boycotts, the company’s spokesperson Sheikina Liverpool issued a statement:
“This week, one of our store managers questioned an African American employee’s braided hair style. Our team began an immediate investigation, and the manager involved was promptly removed from the store. Today we concluded the investigation and can confirm that the manager has been terminated from the company. Banana Republic has zero tolerance for discrimination. This situation was completely unacceptable, counter to our policies, and in no way reflects our company’s beliefs and values.”
Destiny is speaking with lawyers about how to proceed with the distressing situation before officially resigning her position with the company. Do you think that companies have the right to say how employees wear their hair? Let us know in the comments and SHARE this story!