‘Shopping while black’: former news anchor’s daughter tagged ‘shoplifter’

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Casey Parham says she was just shopping for a new wallet in a South Carolina resort shop when one clerk turned to another woman and said, “Shoplifter.”

Unfortunately for that clerk, Parham’s mother is Rene Syler, the former CBS and WFAA/Channel 8 anchor, and Syler decided to tell the world.

Although the family lives in New York, they have a home south of Charleston. The teen and friend, who happens to be white, rode to the Carolina Girls store on bicycles and didn’t expect what happened.

–‘Shopping while black’: When simply being African-American becomes a crime

After the incident, her mother said  “Here’s this bright, shiny college girl with a great smile, and that’s the first thing they think?” she wrote at goodenoughmother.com.

“Every African-American can remember an experience where the innocence was lost, where the color of their skin made a difference when they were just walking, or driving, or shopping,” she later added in a phone interview. “I never expected that here.”

“The idea that somebody would say something like that out loud and laugh — that’s what bullies do,” she said.

–Can ‘shopping while black’ become a thing of the past?

At first, the store responded by saying “We are very sad to see these comments,” before going on to apologize “for anything … that upset your daughter.” “They acted as if nothing happened and nothing was wrong,” Syler said.

But Syler made sure that her daughter’s story was told, because she felt it was important not to let the clerks’ actions go unchallenged.
“Look, ‘shopping while black’ is a real thing, OK? It’s not in somebody’s imagination. Just because it doesn’t happen to you doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.”