Nike Manager Accuses Black Family of Shoplifting a $12 Basketball They Had Paid For.

by Pitt Griffin on August 5, 2019 · 0 comments

in Racism

A father takes his family to a Nike store to buy his 18-month-old son his first basketball. They pick it out, pay for it, and leave. The child is ecstatic. Then a manager chases them down, accuses them of stealing the ball and demands its return. She even summons the police.

Question: Is there enough evidence to determine the race of the family and the manager?

There shouldn’t be. In a perfect world, it would have been no more than a dumb mistake on the manager’s part. And the participants could have been any race. But it’s not that world. And it is to no one’s surprise that the manager was white and the family black.

When Joel Stallworth and TaMiya Dickerson took their 18-month-old son Sammy to Nike’s Santa Monica Place location on July 5, did they worry they might be falsely accused of shoplifting? I don’t know. But videos on social media make it clear that blacks in America face hurdles going about their daily business that whites don’t have to worry about.

The story (read it here)  doesn’t go into specifics. Such as why the manager thought they were shoplifting. She obviously couldn’t have any evidence of the crime because they hadn’t committed one. So she must have been going on her ‘gut’ just as George Zimmerman used his gut to profile Trayvon Martin.

Retailers, especially the majors and national chains, have procedures in place to prevent people from being falsely accused of shoplifting — mainly that the evidence of a crime has to be compelling. For example, cameras recorded the perpetrator on video concealing the merchandise and leaving the premises. Or trained security personnel witnessed the concealment and the crook’s exit.

Retailers want to be damn sure that if they stop someone, that person will have stolen merchandise on his person. Because detaining a citizen absent the proof of any crime is a no-no. If they saw the concealment but lost sight of the suspect before he got to the exit they can’t say for sure he didn’t get cold feet and dump the goods before leaving.

In this case, the manager looks as if she ad-libbed the whole thing, leaving Nike in a world of hurt over a $12 basketball.

But whatever the cost to the retailer, the price to the family was greater. It is not pleasant to be accused of something you didn’t do. And as soon as armed law enforcement is involved the stress increases. What if they couldn’t find the receipt? The father reported that the cops assumed the store manager was in the right. And it was only when the family produced the proof of sale did they become the neutral arbiters they were supposed to have been from the beginning.

 As Stallworth said, “I can’t say I was surprised, because being a black man in America we really don’t hold too much weight with the police. The manager harassing me put me in a place where it was hard to calm down, and getting riled up in front of the police can end in death for people who look like me.”

The family is agitated and angry and smug whites will say, ‘if only they had stayed calm, the situation could have been rectified much quicker’. But the stereotype of the ‘angry black man’ is racist hogwash. Whites are just as capable of becoming agitated and angry when falsely accused and who’s telling them to ‘calm down’?

Nobody was irate until the store manager made her false accusation. After that, for all the heated words, no physical threats were made. Nobody laid a finger on anyone. At one point one of the cops tells Stallworth that he’s intimidating the store manager. To which he replies that she is intimidating him. And he’s right. She initiated the conflict, and she summoned the cops. 

The manager was fired. The family is traumatized. The kid didn’t get his basketball. Nike didn’t get a sale and faces a lawsuit  — all over a $12 item. That is the price of the daily grind of racism. Sadly, the manager probably didn’t think she was racist. But in a way, that is the worst type of racism. People making judgments about other people they encounter based on the color of their skin — without even knowing they are doing it. 

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