Missouri Man Shocked at Being Labeled N-Word on Store Receipt

Journeys store gave receipt to a Missouri man that read "dumb N-word."

Oct. 22, 2008 — -- A black couple from Missouri seek amends from clothing store Journeys after their son was given a receipt that said "dumb N-word" in capital letters.

Linda Slater said she's both saddened and angry that it happened and "to know that racism is still alive."

On Friday, her son Keith Slater, 22, bought a pair of loafer-style shoes from the Journeys at the Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kan., about a 30-minute drive from their home in Kansas City, Mo.

When he found a less expensive pair of similar shoes at a different store a short while later, however, he returned the first pair to Journeys the next day.

The clerk, whom Linda Slater described as a 20-something white woman, asked why he was returning the shoes and Keith Slater told her about the less expensive shoes he had bought.

It wasn't until the family got home that he glanced at his receipt and saw the insult printed next to the line marked "Cust" for customer.

"Then I was like, 'Nah, no way. It can't say that," Keith Slater, a junior at Missouri State University in Springfield, told ABCNews.com today. "I was shocked, 'cause I didn't do anything for that to happen."

Keith Slater, who is studying business and finance, said he had never been directly called the racial epithet before and his mother said she hadn't either.

When they returned to Journeys the next day, the same clerk showed the Slaters that she simply had entered a code into the computer and that's what came up.

The clerk's intentions are unclear but Linda Slater said the woman indicated she knew that was in the system and told the family that the employee who put it there had been terminated.

Keith Slater said he's partially gotten the resolution that he wants in that the word has gotten out and people know "this can still happen." But he also wants to know why the phrase was allowed in the system in the first place.

A statement issued by Nashville, Tenn.-based Genesco, which owns the clothing store aimed at young shoppers, said the company was continuing to investigate the incident.

The statement also said that the employee who added the language to the system had been terminated but the company would not say whether the termination occurred before or after the Slater incident.

"Needless to say, such an act was not authorized by Journeys and will not be tolerated," the statement read. "At Journeys, we pride ourselves on valuing and respecting every customer. We are shocked and sickened that a former associate could be responsible for an act so out of keeping with our culture and our values."

The line marked "Cust" is reserved for the customer's name. There are 813 Journeys stores nationwide.

As for Keith Slater's mom, she'd like to see compensation from the company. Linda Slater said they have gotten apologies from both the store's company and the mall managers. She also said that she knew of no other similar incidents but that she believes that most people never look at their receipts.

The family, she said, is a Christian one and doesn't believe in making a huge scene or going to court.

"You have to be better than that person who said that," she said today.

But she'd still like to see the company do something for her son.

"I could see that my son was hurt," she said. "He just kind of stood there and hung his head down."

Richard McIntire, national spokesman for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said that this and other incidents that happen daily prove that America still hasn't come to terms with its race issues and that's something that's going to be relevant as the country heads into an election where a black man is leading in polls.

McIntire, who hadn't heard about the receipt, said Keith Slater was blessed to have made it 22 years without the N-word being lobbed in his direction.

"It's something that needs to be removed from America's vocabulary," he said.

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