Bad customer service in Black and white


Don’t you hate it when you’re in a store, being a “regular” customer and a clerk continually asks if they can help you—to the point of utter annoyance?

“Um, can I help you find something?” a nervous white clerk inquires. Mind you, she’s talking to my back.

“I’m good thanks,” I say dismissively and continue to browse/shop.

I feel her hawk eyes watching my every move.

“Hello, can I help you?” asks totally new clerk.

The intimidation tactics begin.

“Just looking,” I say nonchalantly.

Ten minutes later, I hear:  “Are you still looking?” she says pseudo pleasantly, with a forced smile plastered on her face.

“Five, four, three, two, one….I’m about to lose it. “Do you see me LOOKING at you?” I want to retort in retaliation.

At this point, I have three choices: stay, pay or refuse to give them my hard-earned money.

So, I choose to stay and continue shopping like the other patrons, whom they have not harassed.

“Have we—as Americans—really come a long way?” as the media wants us to believe?

Don’t believe the hype.

In Tyler Perry’s movie, Why Did I get married too? Four professional African-American women/friends enter an upscale store. While they are shopping, they also become engrossed in a lively discussion, when a sales clerk walks up to ladies and suddenly says “I just want you to know, we don’t have cash in our store,” and walks away. The woman’s racist remark leaves the women totally stunned. The insult/stereotype has sunken in. Angela, the most boisterous and out-spoken one in the group is beyond livid. She follows after the clerk remarking “Oh, no she didn’t! Who does she think she is?” Angela is about to give this sales lady a piece of her mind and rightfully so. While this scene was hilarious—and did make us laugh—at the same time, we laughed for several reasons:

  • This woman actually said what most white clerks or other nationalities are thinking
  • At some point, either we or other African-Americans have experienced similar treatment of being followed/harassed for other people’s preconceived notions that “All African-Americans shoplift.
  • That this stereotype/beliefs still exists today

But we, African-Americans are also guilty of our own “preconceived discrimination” when other African-customers shop in a wealthy/upscale stores. African-American sales people have blatantly ignored African-American customers. This happened to me and I was totally/equally offended.

I entered the store with the intentions of buying a pair of sandals I spotted in the window. For ten minutes, I patiently waited for assistance.  The two young sales women, didn’t even look up.

I continue to look around and waiting for them to acknowledge my presence and the fact, that they are there to make a sale.


As I get ready to leave, a white lady walks in. I swear, these two women were falling all over themselves to help her. I’ve experienced this type of African-American discrimination more times than I care to mention. And yes, I am equally perturbed when I get bad service coupled with feeling/being unfairly discriminated against and the worst—a salesperson’s lackadaisical attitude.  When I experience African-American discrimination, I feel:

  • Their bias attitude of thinking their better than I am
  • They also feel I don’t have money, can’t afford/just browsing attitude, so why waste their time
  • Only Whites people get preferential treatment and they would complain to management about their horrible experience and lack of service.

Bad customer service—whether from African-American or Whites—should not be tolerated or accepted by customers based on misguided perceptions.  In Ann Manheimer’s book Dr. Martin Luther King, Dreaming of Equality, she writes about King’s father and Martin racist encounter attempt to purchase a pair of shoes at an Atlanta shoe store. The clerk  stipulated he would wait on them but there was one stipulation: they had to move to the back of the store. This meant they could not get the same service based on their skin color.

Father King refused and basically had conditions of his own and left. He grumbled, saying: “I don’t care how long I have to live with this system, I will never accept it.”

Even today, I think King’s father’s words still ring true. We (customers) should never get used to accepting bad behavior—Black, White or other—based on the color of our skins or  sales clerk/people’s  “preconceived notions.”
















Let’s Get It On–NOT!

Buzz. Buzz. The red-heart shaped Evite pops up on my Smartphone and also in my e-mail.

Ding! I press the button with excitement. The anticipation builds I know any heart-shaped emblem instantly means love.

Heartfelt invitation to something I’d enjoy: dinner, movies, a literary gathering or a perhaps even an engagement or celebrating a friend’s anniversary.

It didn’t matter, the Evite certainly piqued my interest–and I was elated!

My eyes scan the titillating message: You are cordially invited to take your passions to a new level. Come join us while learning new things to keep the passion alive and thriving in your relationship.

So, it was that kind of Par-tay, I think aloud and immediately start chuckling.

This wasn’t my first party and I recalled, the party was a blast!

First, the red and pink balloons and creative “decorations” set the ambiance of fun and plenty of excitement.

Then, there was these red goodie bags we won by default filled with fun “prizes.”

Hint: Just don’t leave the bags out at home.

The entire evening, we all laughed until our bellies hurt, as we couldn’t stop making jokes/ remarks.

And of course, there was the glorious food. Strawberries floating in pink champagne. Bunches of chocolate desserts and of course, a nice entree of shrimp, sandwiches and salads.

I’m convinced I’m going, besides, I’m open-minded and I think I’m cool at 50-something.  And, I’m like to think I’m all about “Getting or Bringing My Sexy Back,” whether I’m in/out of a relationship, I made up my mind, I’m going to be sexy!”

The Evite reads: Invite friends!!!

So, I do: two of my girlfriends have confirmed.

I’m about to RSVP, when my eye catches the list of people who have been invited.

As I’m reading, I recognize some names, others I don’t, so I’m thinking, everything’s cool.

Then, I stop on a name that makes me stop in my tracks. Um, the invitation was also sent to one of my family members, whose identity, I won’t divulge. But my mind screams:

Say it isn’t so!


Oh, the shock and the horror.

Nope, this isn’t going to work—on any level.

While I consider myself open-minded, there are certain things I’d rather do in private. (No pun intended, although, I ‘m cracking myself up.

And as quite as it’s kept, being with family member (s) would kind of spoil the mood.

Anyone who really knows me, already understands that I’m going to cut up.

Somethings, as I have already experienced, just lend themselves to a joke or an exaggerated demonstration—and not always by me!

Bottom line: There are just place and situations that you cannot feel comfortable with your family members. I have a friend who told me that she and her daughter have no problems sharing experiences together.

“We even gone to clubs together, she’s dancing. I’m dancing and we have a ball,” she says.

Then, I think about my daughter, who’s shy by nature, having me go with her to “intimate” gatherings. I know, I’d already be Mom and it would make her and myself uncomfortable. No, I think, she’s has to have her own moments and I absolutely love have mine.

No blurred lines here.

With a heavy heart,  I decline the Evite and think, “But that doesn’t mean Stella, won’t get her groove back/on/or in progress.

It’s just a matter of timing!































Never question Coretta Scott King’s Love for Martin and the Movement



  Here’s the million dollar question posed in a survey: If you had the chance to spend a day with anybody—either dead or alive—who would it be and why?

Congratulations to anyone who can immediately rattle off a name(s).  For me, the real question becomes whose feet can I sit and listen intentionally as this person expounds on their life, their countless and numerous honors, their dedication, their “popular or unpopular decisions,” their internal struggles, their devotion and their dreams? I envision this person would be like a teacher educating a child about the complexities of life, the enormity of their role, their depth of consciousness and their immense joy for doing what they loved.

With February being Black History Month, I immediately thought about vast number of prospects formulating my interest in the Civil Rights Movement, particularly the roles of women. As the saying goes, “Behind every man, there’s a great woman.” In this case, there were many women that were influential in the Civil Rights Movement, from organizing the marches, to planning the sit-ins and actually participating in the marches. Some of these facts are not always mentioned. But one lady’s contribution undeniably changed the trajectory of the Civil Rights Movement by insisting and also speaking out for justice and basic Civil Rights, we take for granted today. This person is Coretta Scott King.

The question that loomed in my mind: As loving as she was, there had to be some internal discord in her mind/spirit, knowing that Martin Luther King willing would “become the sacrificial lamb” meaning at any time, they both knew he could die at any time. And privately, at what point did she give her blessing? How many woman could even consider such a prospect?

When Coretta Scott met Martin Luther King, they had one thing in common: their passion for civil equality and activism. She was already a member of N.A.A.C.P and other social causes. Marrying a minister, she knew that her life would forever change. And she readily accepted and threw herself into the life of being a Preacher—responsibilities and all.

From what I read, Coretta partnered with her husband, to fulfill his demanding duties as a preacher. She already knew she would have to share her husband. Her understanding of his demanding scheduled and his calling to ministry would require her immense commitment and understanding. Yet, she still stood strong with her husband in his duties and the higher calling to civil rights.

I’m convinced that Coretta Scott King must have known the full range of the Bible and its decrees just like her husband before saying “I do.” In Genesis 2:24, it states: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Coretta Scott King had to know, that this meant, one mindset, one for the cause, one vision and one leader. Willingly and lovingly, I believe that she did not see herself as subservient—in a negative way or connotation. No, I believe when Martin Luther King explained the Civil Rights purpose and its greater context to her, I could only imagine that she’d have to wrestle with such inner apprehensions?  When does any woman ever get used to the following:

  • Hearing the phone ring in the middle of the night and hearing “Your husband’s dead.”
  • Your husband is locked up—again
  • Your husband is being followed and possibly taped by the FBI?
  • The KKK and other agitators have targeted your husband.
  • Your husband is in jail. Who’s to say he’ll come out alive?
  • You’re going to be widow
  • Your children are going to be fatherless?
  • Expect your house to be bombed.
  • Your husband will not get a fair trial
  • Warning: You will probably have to carry on the fight when your husband dies
  • And lastly, “Prepare to be a single mother.”

Given these scenarios, at what point did Coretta Scott King give her blessing? ” is the question on most people’s mind. And are you really ok with knowing your spouse life could end any minute in a violent demise? Would you readily put your life and your children’s life in danger for the cause/dream? Remember, Coretta Scott King was home with her family, when someone threw a bomb into their home? Luckily, she and her children were unharmed. And what man or woman wouldn’t be have the following questions given the serious of the situation?


  • Are you serious?


  • This is your dream, not mine.


  • I didn’t sign up this.


  • Do you not realize you’re a wife/mother/husband/father?

Call it selfish, but these questions are real in any woman or man’s mind, thoughts and sometimes actions. What about the dedicated men in law enforcement or those who dedicate their lives to the Army/Navy?  What does it feel like to these spouses who kiss their spouses good-bye not knowing if they’ll ever see them again? Hats off to women, like Coretta Scott King, Winnie Mandela, Jackie Kennedy and Merlie Evans-Williams and Betty Shabazz. These women all shared one thing in common: Men who gave their lives to the American people.


I feel my heart get full when Coretta Scott King locked arms with her husband and walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge not knowing if she would return. What wife/mother would put her own life at risk? I shake my head knowing this woman had to have some kind of faith and resolve.

I see a woman who intrinsically understood the greater sense of self sacrifice, the greater good, sacrificing personally for the advancement of others. Surely, I knew that Mrs. Coretta Scott King knew, modeled and made her decisions accordingly as she wholeheartedly endorsed the Bible passage in John 3:16:  “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

 There’s no question in my mind that Mrs. Coretta Scott King’s decisions, actions, dedication and triumphs were ever in vain. I believe as a wife/mother, activist, that her destiny was predestined, which is why she may have accepted Martin’s devotion. Their combined mission was unity and if they had to die for it, then so be it. Deep!