Abercrombie & Fitch is in the news again. Their quarterly sales have come in and it doesn't look good. The clothing store refuses to lower their prices during the recession and folks aren't shopping there. But that's not the news I'm talking about. I'm talking about a semi-nude black man, an auction block and dozens of white Abercrombie shoppers. Let me break it down for you: I was walking down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan a few days ago. I call myself providing a guided NYC tour for a friend who moved here to write for the new Sherri Shepherd comedy. I never stroll down Fifth Avenue. It's way too tourist-heavy and shopping depletes me of electrolytes. As I approached the Abercrombie store I was surprised to see a velvet rope in front and what appeared to be a bouncer. Yeah, ole Crombie was apparently having a party.
When I passed the entrance of the door I saw a shirtless black guy perched up on a block. I did a double-take. He wasn't smiling. He wasn't even blinking. He was just standing there as dozens of white shoppers looked up at him. Oh, it gets better. As the shirtless black man stood on the block, a clothed white man handed out store flyers to the onlookers. I know fashion is all about retro these days, but a throwback to the 1850s is crossing the line. Somebody say, Word.
Now you would think Abercrombie would be smarter. They've been sued for not hiring "minorities" and relegating an armless employee to the stock room. I don't even want to dig up that crazy "Two Wongs Can Make It White" t-shirt. But I guess when sales are plummeting a store will do anything. And I'm sure some quick-thinking store manager thought it would be really HOT and profitable to pull off "Malik's" shirt and put him up on a block at the entrance of the store.
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.