Gabourey Sidibe Discusses ‘Shopping While Black’ Incident at Chanel Boutique

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Empire star and author Gabourey Sidibe has written about her “shopping while black” incident at a Chanel boutique in Chicago. She recently wrote an essay, “My Money Is Green,” describing her attempt to purchase glasses and nearly being stopped by a prejudice salesperson.

“I was wearing new ankle boots and my prescription Balenciaga shades, and I had a vintage Chanel purse on my shoulder, over my winter coat with a fur hood. I looked as though I were in a Mary J. Blige video. Just how I like to look!” Sidibe wrote in this week’s Lenny newsletter.

Even being dressed in fancy clothing couldn’t prevent Sidibe from being profiled as someone who couldn’t afford to shop at the store, and the salesperson even suggested she try a discount store across the street, after claiming they did not sell glasses, they only sell “shades.”

“Just to be sure of what was happening, I made her tell me to leave, in her pretend-polite way, three times,” she wrote. “I knew what she was doing. She had decided after a single look at me that I wasn’t there to spend any money.”

It wasn’t until other employees, who were of color, recognized Sidibe that the salesperson decided to help.

“Just like that, I went from being an inconvenience to a customer,” she wrote.

Sidibe has commonly written about how she’s been discriminated against for being black and overweight. She wrote in her essay:

To be fair, I don’t know why that saleswoman didn’t want to help me. I suspect it’s because I’m black, but it could also be because I’m fat. Maybe my whole life, every time I thought someone was being racist, they were actually mistreating me because I’m fat. That sucks too. That’s not OK. I’ve felt unwelcome in many stores throughout my life, but I just kind of deal with it. As a successful adult, sometimes I walk out of the store in a huff, without getting what I want, denying them my hard-earned money. Other times I spend my money in an unfriendly store as if to say “Fuck you! I’ll buy this whole damn store!” Does it matter whether my waist is wide or if my skin is black as long as my money is green?

Sidibe ended up buying two pairs of glasses and two pairs of sandals.  She said, “Honestly, if I walked out of every store where someone was rude to me, I’d never have anything nice.”

Chanel issued a statement saying they are investigating the incident and that the actions of the salesperson did not reflect its brand.

At what point is it better to choose not to support this type of behavior from employees and choose to shop elsewhere? No one actually needs an expensive brand name from a store with prejudice employees.

(Article By Jeremiah Jones)

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