Monday, August 4, 2008

Ambercrombie & Fitch: Racists Never Learn

I have  actively boycotted Ambercrombie & Fitch for its treatment of racial minorities for some time now. In fact I positively ache when I see a body of colour wearing any of their apparel.  Do not spend your hard earned money to support a company that believes that bodies of colour are only to fit to work in the back room. Do no spend your hard earned money to advertise a label that believes that you are less than.

In 2005 Ambercrombie settled  a class action  "discrimination lawsuit brought on by nine former employees who claimed they were fired, asked to work in back storage rooms or put on overnight shifts because they didn't fit into the "Abercrombie look" enough to work on the sales floor during regular business hours."

A&F sells whiteness as good and sexy. A person of colour is considered contrary to their public image. Take a look through their catalogue, or a walk through a few of their stores.  It came as no surprise when I read a story about a Muslim woman being denied a job in the kids section because she wore a hijab.  Apparently the woman was told that her clothing did not fit the Ambercrombie image.  Yeah, you know all American, white and blonde. 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion in hiring, firing, and other terms and conditions of employment. The act also requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee, unless doing so would create an "undue hardship" for the employer.

It seems for A&F respecting people of different cultures and religions is a hardship.  They simply cannot acknowledge POC as equal citizens as it would conflict with white supremacy.  Despite having to pay out a 40 million dollar settlement in 2005 A&F seems intent of continuing on a course of marginalization. As POC we must mobilize against this kind of oppression. We need to actively boycott their stores and inform people exactly what  message they are sending out each time they purchase, or wear A&F products. Just as with any company, they are dependent on consumer dollars.  The proletariat at this time may not have much power but it is possible to use our consumer dollars to force a change. Companies like this will continue to discriminate as long as they can make a profit.

Cross posted at Feminocracy


10 comments:

Ebony Intuition said...

You know what although I've never shopped at this store, when I do walk by the store here in Toronto or even when I go to the USA, I have noticed that only white people work in the store, but then again a lot of stores are like that. There's so much discrimination in retail stores.

For example people who are heterosexual get treated unfairly in retail and fashion because a gay man or women is always privileged over someone who is straight even if their work ethic is not up to par (and trust me when I say this, I went to school for fashion design and worked retail, the majority of men hired in retail are gay, and the majority of men in the fashion industry are gay).

And to add on top of that theirs racial discrimination also.

daomadan said...

"For example people who are heterosexual get treated unfairly in retail and fashion because a gay man or women is always privileged over someone who is straight even if their work ethic is not up to par (and trust me when I say this, I went to school for fashion design and worked retail, the majority of men hired in retail are gay, and the majority of men in the fashion industry are gay)."

Your personal experience does not mean that all hiring practices in fashion favor gay men or (straight) women. The fashion industry has a history of being hospitable to gay men and so they gravitate towards it. And yet, some of the top paid designers are still white, male, and heterosexual. The patriarchy likes to keep itself in place even in gay-dominated, fashion-forward, clothing made-for-women industry. Outside of fashion, us queers sure don't have it easy and I'd argue...don't always have it easy in fashion either. Just read about what Coco Chanel had to go through to be taken seriously in the fashion world and you'll question whether women are privileged over straight men.

Ebony Intuition said...

@ daomadan

I never said that all gays are privileged over straight people (learn how to read) I'm just sharing my personal experience which I have a right too just like gays have a right to share how they are discriminated so do I. I'm jut making a point that people always overlook people who are heterosexual, people who are heterosexual get discriminated against also.


"The fashion industry has a history of being hospitable to gay men and so they gravitate towards it."

This does not give them the right to discriminated against people in the industry who are heterosexual because this does take place in the fashion world.


"Just read about what Coco Chanel had to go through to be taken seriously in the fashion world and you'll question whether women are privileged over straight men."

Um like I mentioned I went to school for fashion so I obviously know everything about Coco Chanel, and you should also ask yourself about all the unknown and amazing black designers (gay and straight) who have worked in the industry and still get overlook or pushed to the sidelines just like all the models of colour who are pushed to the sidelines so that "white women can be the ultimate beauty" so at the end of the day its white men and women who still push gays, blacks and people of colour to the side lines.


"Outside of fashion, us queers sure don't have it easy and I'd argue.."

Yes this is true and its also untrue, when will people realize that everyone is discriminated against (NOT JUST GAYS). Black people don't have it easy, women don't have it easy, no one has it easy because everyone is afraid to stand up to white men and put them in their damn place (I have no problem doing so). Until then everyone will still be pushed to the sidelines.


"Your personal experience does not mean that all hiring practices in fashion favor gay men or (straight) women. "

Hiring practices across the board or based on whoever is privileged to "fit" the right look of a company its not just in fashion its all across the board.

Danny said...

Yes this is true and its also untrue, when will people realize that everyone is discriminated against (NOT JUST GAYS). Black people don't have it easy, women don't have it easy, no one has it easy because everyone is afraid to stand up to white men and put them in their damn place (I have no problem doing so).

Damn straight. Every one gets the short end of the stick in some manner, even white men. No one holds exclusive rights to being discriminated against.

daomadan said...

(learn how to read)

And you learn how to write. ("And to add on top of that theirs racial discrimination also." "There's"...not "their."

"Yes this is true and its also untrue, when will people realize that everyone is discriminated against (NOT JUST GAYS)."

I never said it is just "GAYS" who are discriminated against. I was addressing your comments about gay men and (I assume you mean straight) women being privileged over straight people. Sorry, I'm not going to feel sorry for heterosexuals who are still privileged over other sexualities. Perhaps it'll do them some good to realize that they're not the people in power for once. The more queers, POC, and other marginilized groups we can get into any industry the better it will be for it.

Renee said...

Danny what you are trying to say is that there are situations that mitigate privilege however I feel that it is important that no matter the situation the privilege does not disappear and this is particularly so for white men.

Danny said...

No Renee what I'm trying to say is that everyone is the target at some point. I never said anything about privilege. Pick any walk of life you wish and in some way in some manner they are considered the safe target.

It seems to me that you're trying to say that privilege in one area (or several) justifies being discriminated against in another area (or several).

Renee said...

No Danny that is not what I am saying at all..and whether or not you acknowledge it on not this comes down to privilege... if tomorrow bill Gates is mugged and he loses his wallet to an armed woman that does not mean that after the mugging is over that he will not still possess the privileges of a rich white males.

Danny said...

No Danny that is not what I am saying at all..and whether or not you acknowledge it on not this comes down to privilege... if tomorrow bill Gates is mugged and he loses his wallet to an armed woman that does not mean that after the mugging is over that he will not still possess the privileges of a rich white males.

And if that armed woman targeted him because he's a rich white man after the mugging was over he would still be a target of discrimination as well.

I acknowledge privilege but having privilege doesn't mean that you can't be a target of an -ism.

cyn said...

Apparently, they're not only too picky on the people who work there, but on the people who buy there.
I was on a bus in NYC and had the opportunity to look at almost every store in 5th avenue from there. The Abercrombie and Fitch main store looked almost like one of those horrible nightclubs. They had a fucking queue and bodyguards. The queue was as long as the one at Mac store (the new iPhone had just come out, so you can guess it was very, very long), and most of the people there were youngsters in all colours, backgrounds and sizes. You can guess who were the ones who had it easier to get into the store. It was creepy.
You don't even struggle like that to get in the Louis Vuitton main store. Not even Saks Fifth Avenue, nor Carolina Herrera's custom-made boutique. Abercrombie and Fitch's customer policies are beyond plain, Devil-Wears-Prada-esque elitism. It is racist. It is sexist. It is sizist. It is personal.