Banana Republic Employee Alleges Store Manager Said Her Hair Was “Too Urban” For Their Store

Last month I announced that I was taking a step back from sharing stories like this. I felt that I was losing my own platform, and turning it into a space where I was sharing little more than instances of Black women being victimized by white people. Our narrative is so much more colorful than that which is shared on most mainstream media outlets. You and I know this to be true, and yet our stories so often centered around our experiences with white people.

And as much as I want to get away from sharing instances of “white people white peopling,” I don’t know that I can truthfully tell our stories,  as black women in America, if I do not share how systematic racism shapes our lives. While I will not be alerting you to every viral instance of our victimization, I do think that some accounts bear repeating, even if it hurts.

Destiny Tompkins’s experience at the Westchester Mall in White Plains, NY is one such story.  On Wednesday, Destiny shared a social media status, wherein she alleges that her manager at Banana Republic chastised her for wearing her hair in braids.

Her post reads:

so today I went into work at Banana Republic at the Westchester Mall and after the district manager (a white woman) popped in for a visit, I was told to go to the office to speak with my manager, Michael (Mike), who is a white man. I came in and he questioned me about the dress code and immediately, I thought there was something wrong with my outfit but he sat me down and questioned my hair instead. He told me that my braids were not Banana Republic appropriate and that they were too “urban” and “unkempt” for their image. He said that if I didn’t take them out then he couldn’t schedule me for shifts until I did. When I tried to explain to him that it was a protective style for my hair bc it tends to become really brittle in the cold, he recommended that I use shea butter for it instead. I have never been so humiliated and degraded in my life by a white person. In that moment, I felt so uncomfortable and overwhelmed that I didn’t even finish my work shift and ended up leaving. When my friend’s mom called the store to find out my manager’s last name (only been working there a month so idk it), he refused to give it to her. Box braids are not a matter of unprofessionalism, they are protective styles black women have used for their hair and to be discriminated against because of it is truly disgusting and unacceptable. Make this public bc they need to be exposed for their blatant racism and discrimination. There’s no reason why a white person should feel allowed to tell me that I can’t wear my hair the way that I want bc it’s too black for their store image. #boycottbanana Banana Republic

Destiny’s experience isn’t new. Just last year, black girls at a Massachusetts school were being expelled for wearing their in braids (read about that HERE. ). It’s also important to note that in March last  year, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it is legal to refuse to hire someone because they have dreadlocks.

According to the New York Daily News, a spokesperson from Banana Republic stated:

“as a company, we have zero tolerance for discrimination. We take this matter very seriously and we are actively conducting an investigation. We are committed to upholding an inclusive environment where our customers and our employees feel respected.”

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