Chanel has publicly apologized for racially profiling Gabourey Sidibe during her infamous #ShoppingWhileBlack incident, but is it enough?
Gabourey Sidibe, who is best known for her Oscar-nominated role in Precious as well as critically-acclaimed roles on American Horror Story and Empire, made headlines earlier this week, describing her experience with shopping at Chanel and being racially profiled by one of the salespeople at a Chicago store near her house.
Gabourey Sidibe documented the infamous incident, dubbed as #ShoppingWhileBlack, in her lengthy essay for Lenny Letter – and the incident immediately spread all over the media and social media and prompted Chanel to issue a public apology.
Despite being a famous Hollywood actress, Gabourey Sidibe says she had been racially profiled at the Chanel store while trying to buy a pair of sunglasses.
Gabourey Sidibe entered the Chanel store carrying a Chanel bag in an attempt to find a new pair of the brand’s sunglasses, but a not-so-welcoming salesperson immediately pointed at the door and said they did not have any sunglasses at the store, despite them being clearly on display.
In a condescending way, the seemingly racist Chanel salesperson directed Gabourey Sidibe to a discount store across the street. But the Oscar-nominated actress, who says the #ShoppingWhileBlack incident hadn’t been the first and probably won’t be the last such incident of store staffers racially profiling her, refused to leave immediately.
“Just to be sure of what was happening, I made her tell me to leave, in her pretend-polite way, three times.”
Gabourey Sidibe, whose essay resonated with thousands of people of color expressing their support for the actress on social media, says the Chanel salesperson made a wrong guess of treating her like a customer that wasn’t there to spend any money after a single look at her.
Gabourey Sidibe, who says it’s not the first time she has been treated unfairly because of her race and weight, claims she was carrying a Chanel bag at the time of the #ShoppingWhileBlack incident, but it wasn’t enough for the salesperson to treat Sidibe like a customer worth her time.
“Even though I was carrying a Chanel bag, she decided I wasn’t a Chanel customer and so, not worth her time and energy.”
After Gabourey Sidibe’s #ShoppingWhileBlack story went viral, with some commenters on social media declaring a boycott against Chanel, the French brand released a public apology to Sidibe on Wednesday.
In its statement, Chanel acknowledged that Gabourey Sidibe had been treated in an “unwelcome” way and was “offended” by one of its salespeople, and the brand claims it had “immediately investigated” the #ShoppingWhileBlack incident.
While Chanel acknowledges that the salesperson’s racist behavior was not in line with their “high standards” of customer service, the French brand insists that it is committed to “provide anyone who comes in our boutiques with the best customer service.”
“We do hope that in the future Ms. Sidibe will choose to come back to a Chanel boutique and experience the real Chanel customer experience.”
While Gabourey Sidibe is unlikely to return to Chanel stores anytime soon after the deplorable #ShoppingWhileBlack experience, the actress has never shied away from expressing her opinion.
Gabourey Sidibe, for whom the #ShoppingWhileBlack essay hasn’t been the first candid piece she has published online, debuted her new memoir This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare earlier this year, where she offered an honest look at weight-loss surgeries as well as her struggles with depression, anxiety, and bulimia, according to People magazine.
In her #ShoppingWhileBlack essay, Gabourey Sidibe also described her experiences with other unwelcome customer service incidents that had occurred to her in the past, saying that she’d even spend money in “unfriendly” stores just to give them the middle finger as if to say, “I’ll buy this whole da*n store!”
“Does it matter whether my waist is wide or if my skin is black as long as my money is green?”
[Featured Image by Richard Shotwell/AP Images]