On Monday, John Henson of the Milwaukee Bucks tried to enter a jewelry store to make a purchase of a watch. However, the jewelry store locked him out then called the police. The police came to interrogate Henson for shopping while black and the standard, “why you driving that kind of car“, came up in the questioning, a particularly familar query when a black person is driving an expensive car with dealer plates.
Sadly, you can’t make this stuff up and the only thing about this story that is any way different than a thousand of other racial profiling stories is that Henson has membership in the NBA millionaires club. He is privileged.
Accordingly, social media has put the jewelry store, Schwanke-Kasten, on blast.
Henson, a 6-11 center for the Milwaukee Bucks, has more resources than the average racial profiling victim. But then so does Oprah Winfrey. She had a similar incident in Manhattan over two decades ago. The difference between the two incidents is that social media wasn’t in existence when Winfrey was denied entry into a posh store. Winfrey told friends what had happened to her who then told friends and it became a national story after time had elapsed.
This happened to Henson on Monday. He used the greatest platform available to him as he was obviously frustrated about the experience and laid out his anger on his Instagram account.
“They locked the door and told me to go away. After I rang the doorbell twice, everyone went to the back. This was followed by two police cars pulling up across the street and watching me for 5 minutes. I was then approached by 2 officers and questioned about the dealer vehicle I was in which is a part of my endorsement deal and asked me what I wanted amongst other things that were irrelevant to me being there just trying to shop at the store like a normal paying customer would do. I told them I was trying to buy a watch…After they ran my plates I overheard them talking about doing more of a background check on the car. The employees finally came out of the back and proceeded to conduct business like they previously were. This was one of the most degrading and racially prejudiced things I’ve ever experienced in life. You have no right to profile someone because of their race and nationality and this incident needs to be brought to light.”
Reflexively, and only because the glare of the media spotlight is a death knell for business, the owner of the jewelry store, Thomas Dixon, had some explaining to do.
This was his version of events. The store had been on alert for certain cars as outlined by the local police so when a Red Chevy Tahoe was parked in front they denied Henson entry then called the authorities. The jewelry owner said:
“We all agree that racial profiling is never acceptable and I deeply regret how the circumstances unfolded.”
The Bucks also released a statement.
“We appreciate the store owner reaching out to apologize and meet with John in person. It’s important to us that he sees the kind of character John Henson has. John is a terrific teammate and player and prides himself on being a good role model in the Milwaukee community. While this illustrates a very real issue in our society, we know this incident isn’t reflective of the Milwaukee community.”
You wonder if Dixon and his employees saw a 6-11 black man and thought…hmmm… he just signed a four year, $45 million extension so it’s safe to bet he can afford any watch in this store. Or if they just thought, tall black man-he wants to rob me. Call the cops.
photo via llananba