Monday, June 30, 2003

By Tia

So it turns out Abercrombie and Fitch is run by racist thieves. Tell me something I don’t know.

Last week The New York Times reported that, “a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco charges Abercrombie & Fitch with discriminating against Hispanics, Asians and Blacks in hiring and favoring attractive young whites for sales floor jobs to project its 'classic American' look.” According to USAToday, “The federal lawsuit, filed (last) Monday by nine Hispanic and Asian plaintiffs, alleges that Abercrombie discriminates against (minorities) by enforcing a nationwide corporate policy of preferring white employees for sales positions, desirable job assignments and favorable work schedules. According to the lawsuit, the company has a policy that requires all sales people to exhibit an all-white "A&F look." Posters and a television program in stores display models that are mostly white, as does the company's catalog, the lawsuit alleges. The company also encourages recruitment from overwhelmingly white fraternities and sororities, it says. When it does hire minorities, it channels them to stock room and overnight shifts and reduces their hours, the suit says. “

First of all of they’re going for the “classic American” look, why don’t they put some Native Americans on the sales floor? I mean let’s keep it real. Secondly, this is the same company that carried shirts depicting slant-eyed men in conical hats with the slogan, “Wong Brothers Laundry. Two Wongs Can Make It White.” Why are y’all surprised? A&F has shown us time and time again that they are not about anything. This is the same company that required you to be eighteen years old to buy their brown paper wrapped clothing catalogue. Now the last time I checked, clothing was pretty much rated PG. Besides the naked girl on the elephant (something I HEARD was in the catalogue), what were they trying to sell? What was so secretive that their target consumer couldn’t legally purchase the catalogue? From what I understand one had to really look for the clothing in the catalogue. It was mostly hidden under beds and hanging from bedposts. 

Maybe it’s b/c I’m black, but this kind of racism doesn’t really shock me. Am I offended? Heck yeah!!! I go to college for four years only to have you tell me that the only job I can have in your store is a stock chick. Will I be folding your Klan uniform with the rest of the spring line? Okay, maybe that’s a bit much, but it’s not all that far off. A&F perpetrated a kind of subtle racism that a lot of us have experienced. You know what I’m talking about. “Oh Tia, you’re whiter than me.” (My musical preference does not negate my blackness. Toya addressed this earlier, but I think we’re going to discuss it in detail again later.) “I have lots of Asian friends.” (If you have to count it’s not that many.) “There was the cutest little Hispanic baby in the store….” (Must we differentiate this child from the others by his skin color?)

I can’t say that their little trick didn’t work. I don’t know a lot of people of color who own too much A&F gear. And truth be told, I would love for it to remain that way. You don’t want us in your store. Fine!!! We don’t want to be there. Especially not when I can probably get a whole outfit from The Gap (or definitely Old Navy) for what I would pay for a t-shirt at your store.

It would be easy to pull a Jesse (Jackson that is) and start one of those oh so effective national boycotts. But what would be the point? I guarantee you A&F will some how try to schmooze their way out of this. They will have a multi-cultural rainbow in their ads by year’s end. I say this to you, DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE. Take your money and run. Head to The Gap, The Navy of OLD, Lerner, shoot, go to Kmart if you have to (Martha could use the money for her defense fund.) Just make sure you are spending your hard-earned green in a store that wants your business.

Besides Abercrombie doesn’t need your money anyway, they steal it from their employees

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