Now, Zendaya is further explaining her side of the story and why she decided to publicly chide Vons.
“It’s important to raise your voice about issues you feel affected by,” she told People at a Michael Kors event on September 11. “It happens to African-American men and women every day.”
That’s true: Shoppers of color are frequently racially profiled. Barneys New York paid $525,000 after two African-American shoppers in 2014 claimed the store’s employees accused them of stealing expensive merchandise.
Even Oprah Winfrey, one of the richest women in the world, has faced racial discrimination while shopping. In Zurich, Switzerland before Tina Turner’s wedding, Oprah said an associate at the retailer Trois Pommes assumed she couldn’t afford a $42,000 bag.
Assumptions that black people cannot afford items or are thieves are not only hurtful, but also fuel negative and untrue stereotypes of African Americans. That’s why it’s a good thing that Zendaya spoke up and called out Vons for its employee’s behavior. We can only make progress, and implement change, if we’re brave enough to tackle the tough and uncomfortable topics.