Zendaya's Allegations Bring #Shoppingwhileblack Back to Light

September 7th 2016

Almie Rose

Television star Zendaya alleged on Tuesday that she was racially profiled in a supermarket checkout line, prompting renewed social media conversation that black Americans faced extra scrutiny while shopping.


A photo posted by Zendaya (@zendaya) on

On Tuesday, the Disney star posted a series of videos on Snapchat describing her trip with a friend to the supermarket to buy $400 worth of gift cards. What should have been a simple task turned into an encounter with an allegedly racist store clerk — and another sad example of #Shoppingwhileblack.

"I don't think ... she was a fan of our skintone."

"The lady that was helping us," Zendaya says, panning her phone over to her black male friend, "I don't think she was a huge fan of our skintone."

"Not at all," he confirms.

Zendaya snapchat

"I recall her not trying to help us at all," Zendaya continues, "Saying we couldn't buy the gift cards and then throwing my wallet. Can't make this shit up. [...] This is what we deal with," she says.

"Because we black," her friend adds.


While we weren't in the store with Zendaya and cannot confirm exactly what was going through the clerk's mind, her allegation is clear: she feels that she was discriminated against solely because of the color of her skin.

This is a feeling shared by many other people of color, who have used the hashtag "Shoppingwhileblack" to share their experiences on Twitter.

This isn't a new idea. A 2015 report in International Business Times details several high profile incidents of retail chains coming under fire for loss reduction practices that appeared to disproportionately target black shoppers. In particular, IBT highlights how in 2014, "Macy’s and Barneys New York entered settlement agreements with the New York Attorney General following incidents in which black customers were arrested and falsely accused of credit card fraud after buying expensive items."

[h/t TMZ]