Hey Barneys: Fix Your Racism Problem by Talking to Customers of Color


Barneys has finally made amends with those black people it accused of being too poor to shop at their store last fall. How? By paying them $525,000 and hiring an anti-racism consultant to help them into 2014 where folks of color can afford stuff. I call bullshit.

According to the New York Times, Barneys is now against profiling their customers and is putting up the money to prove it but I challenge them to, instead of hiring an “independent anti-profiling consultant with expertise in the prevention of racial profiling in loss prevention and asset protection,” create a citizen’s review board. It would be the opposite of, Oakland, California’s police citizen review board, which is usually comprised of retired police officers called to weigh in on how their fellow boys and girls in blue should be reprimanded for bad behavior. This is how cases like the deaths of Eric Garner in New York, Michael Brown in St. Louis or John Crawford in Ohio often result in officer suspensions instead of outright firings or criminal charges.

So Barneys, here’s my suggestion: If you’re really about the change you’re no doubt shooting off press releases around, pull together a group of non-corporate, retail civilians that are black and brown and know first-hand who it’s like to be followed around a store, or cast incredulous looks when they produce their wallet to pay for their pricey purchases. Ask them to watch your staff and share their observations on how you can be a better company that isn’t in the stone ages concerning black and brown dollars because we love to spend money — but not where we aren’t welcome. Write that down.

I daresay only then will real change happen because if Barneys is paying someone to fix them, at some point the consultant will have to tell the fashion retailer what they want to hear, or risk being replaced — that’s the life of a consultant. But if the Barneys anti-profiling review board was comprised of real consumers, I’d be more inclined to believe promising change was afoot, instead of a tap dance to pacify their customers of color.

Oh, and I’m still waiting on Macy’s action to rectify their racial profiling at their flagship New York City location, where they picked on Finding Forrester actor Rob Brown.

Image via Barneys.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin