Let’s talk about women and shopping in Sacramento boutiques or any other type of store. Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your appearance, race, age, or any other factor, perhaps even the type of shoes or clothes you wear in any Sacramento store or eatery? Do security guards stare at you because of how you look to them, even though you look fine to yourself and your relatives and friends? Is it about diversity of age, dress, or color?
There are at least two ways you might be singled out for discrimination while shopping in Sacramento. One way is if you stand at a bus stop with a shopping cart. The red flag goes up. You’re poor. Maybe you’re homeless. Or there’s something mentally and/or physically wrong with you because you don’t drive. Or you have a disability that keeps you too poor to find someone to drive you to your shopping destination. The emphasis is on ‘poor.’ And people jump to the conclusion you’re poor because of some mental or physical problem that keeps you from earning money. Or you’re weak. Or unemployed chronically. Or you’ve outlived your life savings.
The second way to invite discrimination is if you tell the supermarket clerk or bagger that you’re walking home or are a nondriver. A few years ago, in one Sacramento supermarket real example, was an older shopper discriminated against when the check-out clerk told the bagger to “watch that customer” when the woman told the clerk she didn’t need the courtesy help with the package because she wasn’t walking to her car, instead she was walking home which was just across the street?
The Sacramento supermarket check-out clerk ‘ordered’ the young, female bagger to follow the woman to make sure she returned the store’s shopping cart to its place–before she left the store. The clerk ran over to her, grabbed the cart, and the woman smiled, saying something like, “I was just returning the cart. No need to run after me. I walk for exercise. And I’m only carrying this paper bag across the street. I had no intention of wheeling the cart outside the supermarket door. And I think the check-out clerk didn’t have to yell so loud for you to follow that customer. I’m simply too old to drive. I bring my own shopping carts on days when the load is heavy.”
Sixty percent of African Americans have experienced discrimination while shopping, according to the uTube video on shopping discrimination by mainstream media producers. Some TV producers call it “shopping while black.” Check out the uTube video, set up by TV producers, but how often would you say it happens in Sacramento, compared to other large cities?
The point of the mainstream media TV producers emphasized the problem of discrimination while shopping and the lack of customers in the store coming to the defense of the shopper singled out due to racial profiling. The scenario was staged by the TV producers in the video. Could it have been real? Did it happen to you in Sacramento? The producers state that it happens and the situation does happen in real life. Did it happen to you regardless of your ethnicity or age?
In the early 1950s, a 13-year-old female cousin (ancestors from a Mediterranean country) was told in a harsh voice from the bus driver to move to the back of the bus in Miami because she had a deep tan after a few weeks in Florida and had naturally curly dark brown hair. He added loudly, “You know where you belong.” Her blonde mother stepped in and yelled, “Don’t talk to my daughter that way. How could you say that to her? She’s my daughter.”
Needless to say, the two females moved to the back of the bus. Could it happen today in Sacramento, not in a bus, but in a boutique, and in a more subtle way, such as under the premise of singling out people who look like they don’t have money or are old and perhaps have lost some of their memory? Are people singled out because the first thought in the mind of store clerks and managers is that they don’t have enough money to shop at that given store and then the second thought rushes in, based on the stereotype of their race, color, age, or clothing?
Why do some people first gaze at an older woman’s shoes before looking at any other aspect of her appearance or dress? Think about how many times a day people are singled out because of anything from their shoes to the length of their skirt, with maxi-dresses being associated with memory loss on older woman.
In reality, choice of dress signals simply comfort and freedom from mosquito bites, at least in Sacramento. The maxi-dress on older woman is often selected as a more comfortable alternative to skinny jeans, especially on women over age 70 who feel better walking and shopping without tight binding around the waist from slacks or skirts.
You know the familiar signs in many Sacramento restaurants and even some health food stores that say “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” But what about shopping in any given boutique for clothes? Have you experienced racial profiling or even age profiling? An example of age profiling could focus on being singled out because you’re older, perhaps over age 70, and the clerk or manager wants you watched just in case you’re in the early stages of dementia and are going to do something illegal in the store. That’s age profiling.
Another example would be if you are a teenager or in your early twenties and are singled out because you’re young, frisky, and might take something–cross boundaries. So you are singled out to be watched. Or you’re a middle-aged woman with children in the store, and the children have to be watched before they sneeze on the clothing rack or damage goods, or with toddlers, reach for the candy, or in a restaurant, hurt themselves by overturning a glass of water. Or perhaps a child goes up to the buffet counter and soils the food with dirty hands or worse.
Let’s get down to what may have happened to you–racial profiling. Have you been singled out in any Sacramento boutique or department store? Without mentioning names or stores, does it happen to you, or is it something that has been set up by television camera crews to prove that it does happen and that most people don’t respond.
When a woman is being abused verbally and physically in a train, or called ethnic-related names in a public place, do you notice how few people will become involved in protecting the woman or man? People don’t get involved because they fear getting hurt or worse, in many cases. But in a store, why did so few people speak up, even though the camera crew set up the situation, in the uTube video which you can watch about “shopping while black.”
Have you had an experience shopping while old, or black or young or looking in any way other than a department store mannequin circa 1950? You may have had an experience being single out and discriminated against while shopping just because you’re a woman of age, of color, of a certain religion or ethnic group, or with your children or simply because you dressed for comfort.
Women in Sacramento have been singled out because they wear the same boots they have just gardened with–covered with red clay dust from Sacramento backyards, or because they wore maxi-dresses or their preferred type of dress, sometimes ethnic, sometimes simply for comfort. And older women have been singled out on the street because they are older.
One example in Sacramento is what happened a few days ago. An older woman wearing a maxi-dress for comfort and walking shoes–Reeboks running shoes–simply got off the bus and was walking home carrying her shopping bags from some supermarket. Above a helicopter was blaring about some individual with memory loss or other types of dementia who wandered away from home. Sure, the relatives wanted to find the person who wandered away.
Everyone knows dementia patients frequently wander away from home and forget how to return. Relatives want them safe. But his woman had just come home from work as a college tutor in business communications. We later spoke on how weird the experience was….What happened was a young man on a bike suddenly pulls up alongside this older woman and with a sardonic smile on his face says, “Are they talking about you?”
This sent up a red flag. The older woman wondered why a man had suddenly stopped her to engage in conversation. He had done so before, just pulling up alongside the woman walking down the block. He obviously lived in the neighborhood. On other occasions he’d pull up alongside her as she walked from home to bus stop and try to talk to her–talking to her as if she had memory loss or other types of dementia.
Was it based on her maxi-dress, type of comfortable shoes, or white hair–or her sun bonnet–all signs of dressing for comfort? That was in the public’s eyes how older women dressed–hat with brim to keep the sun out of her eyes, walking shoes, and long dress for comfort over slow-moving, bowed legs.
The problem is the woman is hard of hearing, and we later found out that on that day her hearing aid was being repaired. She had been tutoring a deaf college student using sign language. The man didn’t know sign language. The situation became frightening to the woman.
She didn’t understand why a young man on a bike would address an older woman she had not been introduced to before. She wondered why he would start a conversation with, “Is it you they’re talking about?”
We later found it that to her it sounded scary. “Talk about pick-up lines,” she commented. “The harassment never stops, even when you’re old. When you’re young, they want a date. When you’re old they want to grab you because they think you’re demented and wandering away from a nursing home. They just don’t assume you’re an active senior volunteer commuting from work by walking for health.”
The woman is hard of hearing, but not totally deaf. And that woman thought he wanted her purse. Luckily, she showed him her placard which says, “I can’t hear you.” Then she walked home, thanking God, she explained, that he didn’t follow on his bike or leap for her purse, which didn’t contain anything other than her umbrella.
There are other types of discrimination such as shopping while black, old, ethnic, or young and being discriminated against in a boutique. One example would be for a security person to search your purse for no special reason other than how you appear to that person. Did a store clerk or security person have a personal bias and take it out on you as you walked into or out of a store?
Has it ever happened to you in a Sacramento store? Without mentioning names, clerks, or stores feel free to comment on your experience of discrimination, if it happened. But please don’t single out the store or person. The idea is to describe what actually was said to you and why. There are two sides to every story. But everyone knows, discrimination happens. Sometimes it’s based on the clothing you wear, your age, or how closely you fit a stereotype in that other person’s mind.