It may feel like it was three years ago that H&M got hemmed up for posting a racist photo of a young black child in a “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” sweatshirt, but in fact, it was just in January of this year—far too soon for the retail giant to get caught up in another anti-black mess.
And yet, H&M has found itself in the middle of another race-related controversy, this time over an allegation that a Miami-area H&M falsely accused a black customer of shoplifting.
According to CBS 4 Miami, the shopper, Daniela Taylor, is still embarrassed and distraught by the way she was treated by store employees.
Taylor says she went to the H&M store in Pembroke Lakes Mall on Sept. 25 to return a pair of earrings when she decided to buy another pair. After walking out of the store, she was confronted by two loss-prevention agents who accused her of stealing the earrings.
“He’s like, ‘That’s it. You’re going to jail.’ I’m like, ‘But for what?’,” Taylor, who was still in tears when she spoke to the CBS affiliate two days later, told the local news station.
One particular exchange between her and a black loss-prevention officer had her particularly upset, she says.
“I’m cursing because obviously, I have already told him I didn’t do anything. I said, ‘You should understand where I’m coming from. If you were on the other end of the table, you should understand how they do us these days.’ He said, ‘Don’t pull the race card on me,’” said Taylor.
The H&M employees apologized to her once they reviewed security footage and realized she hadn’t stolen anything, but Taylor thinks more needs to be done.
“They need to be better at who they hire. They really need to look into people and do the extensive training that needs to be done,” Taylor told CBS 4. She also told the TV station there was no doubt in her mind that her race impacted her experience.
“It was a black thing. Period. I wasn’t the only person in there. Why me?” She said.
The fast-fashion retail giant responded to the incident via a written statement. After apologizing for the “misunderstanding,” the company added that they cut ties with the third-party security company they had employed.
“We are reviewing our internal procedures to make sure this type of incident does not happen again and that our routines are properly followed,” the statement read. “We will be getting in touch with the customer to follow up on the steps we have taken.”
Interestingly, following the hoodie debacle earlier this year, H&M hired a “diversity leader” to help address issues of racial bias and inclusivity. It’s unclear whether requiring implicit-bias training from its employees and contractors was part of the company’s strategy.