When black employees are accused of theft
If the customer is black and the employee is black, that doesn't mean they're in cahoots.
When the two college basketball players walked into the store entrance, it was hard not to notice them—from height and build alone. But that’s not why I looked over from my cash register. I smiled because one of them was a guy I often talked to in one of my classes, and the other was a friend of his who I’d become chummy with by default. As soon as the classmate made eye contact with me, he rerouted from a store aisle and came over to talk to me. His friend continued on his way to the back of the store.
We chatted for a few minutes about nothing in particular. It was the night shift when the 24-hour retail store was pretty quiet and the pharmacy was closed. The conversation may have lasted a handful of minutes before the friend joined us, paid for a couple of items and both left. I thought nothing of it and went on about putting up stock inventory.
But the next day when I was counting down my drawer, the manager who was in charge during both night shifts mentioned those two guys. Paraphrasing the conversation, he rambled on about how store employees should be held just as responsible for store theft as customers and told a “fictional” story about when it happened. I stopped counting my drawer long enough to ask him why were we talking about this particular topic, and he mentioned that a condom box was empty after those two left. I paused, wondering how this related to me or even how he knew that these two black basketball players must have been the ones who stole the condoms.
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So I asked did he (white and male) get the act on camera. He admitted he did not. I told him as far as I knew, there’d been no theft from those two nor did I know of anything like that happening. He stared at me for a minute before saying, “OK.”
Right at that moment, I considered quitting a job that was paying for my off-campus apartment and bills. But I’d worked here for a year without any problems, and this manager was new. So I called my father instead.