'Shopping While Black': Would You Stop Racism?

Time and time again, customers noticed as the black woman was targeted and mistreated, but most of them just kept shopping. For two middle-aged British women shopping in the store who ignored the scene, the question was whether they knew the woman being harassed.

When correspondent John Quinones stopped one of the women on her way out of the store, she stood firm in her decision to stay silent.

"I wouldn't have gotten involved," she said. "It has nothing to do with me. It's between the shop assistant and the customer."

Quinones pressed the woman, trying to find out why she'd walked away.

"But she needed your help. Someone has to sound the alarm," he said.

The woman said, "But I don't know her."

Though heroes were in short supply, they certainly were not invisible. As the scene played out in the middle of the store, the show noticed one woman nearby who was having a hard time keeping her eyes on the merchandise. Lizabeth Sanchez, a young Latina woman, continually glanced up at the actors, taking it all in.

After the shopper was kicked out of the store, the store clerk was asked to engage Sanchez to see whether she would take a stand. Right from the start, she refused to back down.

"I think it's more appearance. The probability is just higher for that type," said the store clerk, explaining why she had just forced the black shopper to leave. "The statistics are higher for people of ..."

"Of what?" Sanchez asked, pressing for answers.

When the store clerk replied by simply saying "types," an expression of horror spread across Sanchez's face.

"'Types' -- that's the problem," she said, shaking. "I'm afraid of what you're going to say when you clarify what 'type' means. That's really disturbing to me."

"But it's the facts," the clerk said.

Sanchez shuddered. "Oh my goodness, you are saying what I think you're saying," she said.

"People were in here last week," said the clerk. "Same type, same everything. They just can't afford stuff."

'Playing the Black Card'

Sanchez was so upset by the exchange that she turned her face away from the sales clerk and began to cry. It was time to bring out the cameras and explain that this was an experiment.

When she was asked why she'd confronted the sales clerk, Sanchez's teary response was simple.

"Nobody should be treated that way, ever," she said.

A young caucasian couple from Long Island, N.Y., had been browsing right next to the actors. When the show told the store clerk to approach the couple and try to engage them, the scenario took a dark and unexpected twist.

"She looked very suspicious," the clerk told the couple. "I had two ladies like that come in last week, and they don't really have to do anything. It just looks like they're going to do something, you know?"

The male customer responded, "She probably played the black card, right?"

The store clerk then said that it seemed to be black shoppers who steal most often. In response, the man simply nodded.

But when Quinones caught up with him outside the store, his story took a very different turn.

"Oh, I felt so bad for her," he said when he was confronted with the cameras.

After experimenting with a middle-aged black woman, the show wanted to know whether a group of black teenagers, most commonly the victims of this kind of racism, would get a different response.

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