This isn't pretty.
We live in a day and age where identity and racial politics are at the forefront of many people’s minds. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know how to navigate discussions, especially when you’re the one in the wrong. But it’s important to be aware of things such as microaggressions, which are small, and often subconscious ways that people privileged statuses assert dominance or superiority over those of less privilege. And this Sephora worker learned a very fast lesson on how not to react to being called out… the hard way.
It’s not uncommon for people of color to feel that they’re being racially profiled while shopping, because, the truth is, sometimes it is the case. And when these women of color were on an outing to Sephora, they noticed that the white sales attendant was paying them particularly close attention. Although some people would let it slide or become uncomfortable and leave, these women decided to confront her, and they caught it all on camera.
The first woman confronts the saleswoman, saying that she felt racially profiled. She says, “To me… it looked like you were trying to keep us from stealing based on how we looked.” When the saleswoman pipes up, the girl filming says, “Can you let her speak?” and points out that the saleswoman has been interrupting.
“I just want to apologize,” the saleswoman says, explaining that she didn’t want them to feel she was racially profiling. The customer says she saw the saleswoman discuss them with a security guard, which the saleswoman also denies.
Another customer says, “Don’t racially profile. Don’t watch them as they walk around the store… Don’t do that to anybody, because it’s not fair to treat people like that.”
Up until this point, it’s impossible to know where the truth lies. But it soon becomes very clear that the saleswoman doesn’t know what to say and what not to say in this situation, because she manages to take an uncomfortable situation and make it worse by putting her foot in her mouth.
The WORST Possible Reaction
“I’m sorry you guys felt that way,” she says. And then she adds, “You guys might not know this, but I’m from the hood.”
The customers immediately roll their eyes and say, “Oh my god.” As if that wasn’t enough, she adds the mother of all cringey I’m-not-racist cliches: “I have tons of black friends!” And the look on her face makes it clear that she really thinks that this could automatically excuse her from any acts of racism.
You can tell just by looking at the customers’ faces that they are beyond over her poor attempt at apologizing. But one of them takes the time to explain her mistake to her. She says, “That doesn’t justify it. That doesn’t make it okay… and saying that you have black friends doesn’t help.” Another customer agrees, “You can still do racial profiling.” When the saleswoman asks if they accept her apology, they say “Thanks!” and leave.
Because we don’t have the footage, it’s hard to know whether this saleswoman was actually profiling or not, but sometimes the important thing is how you react to being called out. And, protip: saying that you have black friends will generally not go over well.
How would have you reacted if you were part of this discussion? Let us know in the comments and SHARE this article!