In what sounds like the time a Starbucks employee called the police on two men sitting at a table, beauty retailer Sephora has had issues at different locations involving patrons of color. The most widely reported incident this week found comedian Leslie Jones taking to social media to criticize Sephora representatives for their treatment of her makeup artist and the wife of one of Jones’ friends, who had gone to the location in New York City at 2103 Broadway and were treated badly.
After news broke of Jones’ friends’ experience, People magazine online reported that singer SZA, had also had a negative experience at a Sephora. The location, according to SZA’s post in April of this year, is in Calabasas, California. Apparently, security at the followed the singer on suspicions of shoplifting.
The issues have come to light reportedly just before Sephora closed locations for “inclusion training.”
Same problem, different location: Sephora
While Jones and many of her Twitter followers have already planned to boycott Sephora, the problem of questioning who belongs where, remains a troubling aspect of American businesses.
In 2019, decades after segregated lunch counters and schools, businesses in the US still have unwritten policies about who employees should expect to see as customers.
Despite advancements in educational attainment among black Americans, especially women, and thus increased potential for having disposable income, the idea that poverty and crime is a reality for every black American persists.
It should be noted that Sephora’s leadership has reached out on social media to respond to SZA to tell her that she is part of the Sephora community.
The irony of the instance involving Jones is that it immediately preceded the inclusion training. Also, Jones, known for being an outspoken critic of politicians and institutions that disenfranchise women, is likely to use her platform as a popular comedian to take the beauty retailer to task. Her response on “Saturday Night Live’s” Weekend Update, to the recent abortion ban supported by Alabama politicians, has only increased her popularity.
Treating customers, or potential customers, badly based on what you assume their intentions are because of their race, is no longer acceptable. The experiences of celebrities only represent a fraction of the problems black Americans without famous friends have at times in the American marketplace.
Consumers of color can only hope that Sephora and other retailers are serious about including every shopper.