– September 22, 2014

Barneys case stirs talk of 'Shopping While Black' 

(AP) — The usual scenario involves suspicious glances, inattentive clerks or rude service — not handcuffs.

Yet when a black teen said he was wrongly jailed after buying a $350 belt at a Manhattan luxury store, it struck a nerve in African-Americans accustomed to finding that their money is not necessarily as good as everyone else's. Shopping while black, they say, can be a humiliating experience.

Much attention has been paid to the issue over the years — Oprah Winfrey complained that a Swiss clerk did not think she could afford a $38,000 handbag, and even President Barack Obama has said he was once followed in stores. But according to shoppers interviewed Monday, many people don't recognize how prevalent retail discrimination is, and how the consistent stream of small insults adds up to a large problem.

"It's one thing if you don't understand. But don't ever tell me it doesn't happen to me," said Natasha Eubanks, who shops often at high-end stores in New York City. "You can't assume it doesn't happen just because it doesn't happen to you."

Sometimes, Eubanks said, it takes clerks more than five minutes to simply acknowledge her presence. Or they brush her off after a token greeting. Or they ask her question after question: "You're a black girl up in Chanel. They want to know what you're doing here, and what you do for a living."

She says she has dealt with this type of treatment at least 20 times in New York City.

"I don't look like that typical chick who walks into that type of store," said Eubanks, owner of the celebrity website "It feels differently than when you go into a store and are treated properly."

Trayon Christian's problem was not how he was treated when he went into Barneys New York — it was what happened afterward. In a lawsuit filed last week, the 19-year-old said that he bought a Ferragamo belt at the Manhattan store, and when he left he was accosted by undercover city police officers.

According to the lawsuit, police said Christian "could not afford to make such an expensive purchase." He was arrested and detained, though he showed police the receipt, the debit card he used and identification, the lawsuit said.

After Christian's lawsuit was filed, another black Barneys shopper said she was accused of fraud after purchasing a $2,500 handbag, and the black actor Robert Brown said he was paraded through Macy's in handcuffs and detained for an hour after being falsely accused of credit card fraud.

For Yvonne Chan, the reports were a painful reminder of when she worked in a liquor store in a predominantly white Massachusetts town. Every few months someone would be caught stealing, and about half the time it was a black person.

"You find yourself watching black people. (The stealing) only happens once in a while, but it changes your perception," Chan said.

Chan, a graduate student, always tried to remind herself not to act on stereotypes, but, "Like it or not, I'm going to have a preconceived notion of races from my experiences. As much as I would like to force my brain not to think like that and put everyone on an even playing field, stereotypes play a role in our society ... we skew the view of people as individuals."

Those skewed views can affect who gets arrested for retail theft, said Jerome Williams, a business professor at Rutgers University who has studied marketplace discrimination.

Many people justify racial profiling by saying that black customers are more likely to steal. But one study has shown that white women in their 40s engaged in more shoplifting than other demographic groups, Williams said.

"The reason they don't show up in crime statistics is because people aren't watching them," said Williams.

Statistics showing that black customers steal more "are not really an indication of who's shoplifting," he said. "It's a reflection of who's getting caught. That's a reflection of who's getting watched. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Dido Kanyandekwe knows he is being watched. "But I joke with them; I see them looking at me and I say, 'Hello, I see you!' And I wave," said the 18-year-old college student in New York City, who was in Barneys on Monday buying a $600-plus pair of Italian designer sneakers.

"Most black people don't have the money to buy stuff at Barneys," said Kanyandekwe, the son of wealthy parents, before paying for the black leather shoes with a credit card. "But that does not mean all black people are not able to buy these things."

Black people are not the only ones who can face unequal treatment in stores. Hispanics have made the same complaints. And Sher Graham, a white woman who lives in Mobile, Ala., says black servers in the fast-food restaurants she visits often wait on black customers first.

A few months ago, she said, a black cashier started talking to black women standing in line behind her about their order.

"When I brought this to her attention, she just shrugged her shoulders and completely ignored me. This action happens more times than not here in the Gulf Coast region," Graham, a consultant and speaker, said in an email interview.

Yet if the number of complaints is any guide, the experience is most common for African-Americans.

Candace Witherspoon, a wardrobe stylist in Los Angeles, went to a store in Century City last April to buy a purse and shop for one of her celebrity clients. She was wearing a T-shirt and jeans. In a letter to the company, Witherspoon said the sales associate barely greeted her, then ignored her, in contrast with her treatment of white patrons.

"As the other customers left, she said 'Thanks ladies for shopping. Have a good day.' When I left she gave me a nasty look and didn't say anything," Witherspoon's letter said.

Toni Duclottni, who runs a fashion web site in Los Angeles, recently went to a Beverly Hills department store intending to spend about $4,000 on shoes. But she took her business elsewhere after being ignored.

"It's frustrating to be constantly ignored and people pretend it doesn't happen," she said.

To her, the solution is simple.

"They rush to judgment, they jump into it assuming something without speaking to a person," Duclottni said. "They'd be surprised if they just walked up and said, "Hello, can I help you find something?' They'd be surprised."
Associated Press writer Verena Dobnik in New York contributed to this report.

Will you continue to support the Fresno Grizzlies if they lose the Giants affiliation?


gordonwebstergordonwebster Gordon Webster - Publisher
gordonwebstergordonwebster Gabriel Dillard - Managing Editor

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Written on 09/19/2014, 3:33 pm by Leah
Owner Bluff Pointe Golf Course What we do: Bluff Pointe Golf Course and Learning Center is one of the best and friendliest places in the Central Valley to practice and play golf. We have built a 9-hole course and a short game practice facility for all to learn, with a great coaching staff in place to help. Education:Graduate of Sanger High and Reedley College where I started playing golf as a beginner.  Attended Fresno State where I began coaching golf; attended and received Teachers Certification from the United States Golf Teachers Federation (USGTF): attended and received Teachers and Masters Certification from the Masters Golf Teachers Course; became a certification course instructor for the USGTF. Age:57 Family:  Two daughters Jessica and Jennifer and three beautiful granddaughters Kayleigh, Allison and Zoe. You’ve been teaching golf for nearly 35 years. Tell us a little about what brought you and kept you in the sport. Sports were very important to me growing up. I participated in everything including football, basketball, track, and tennis, but hitting a golf ball was it. There is nothing like the feeling of hitting a ball crisp and solid — you hit one good shot and you’re hooked.  The challenge of golfing was the other thing that just grabbed me — creating and figuring out the shot at hand is a huge part of the love I have for the game. What is your vision for the Bluff Pointe Golf Course? My vision started with renovating the old course from a 5-hole to a 9-hole course. I wanted an executive course with drivable par-4s, some very scenic par 3s, and different lengths. There are 4 teeing areas on each hole and the shortest are called the fun tees. Our new short game facility is one of the best, offering 6 bunkers and up to a 60-yard approach shot length. We have a putting green that is approximately 4,000 square feet. There is enough room for all with subtle breaks. 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Written on 09/19/2014, 3:17 pm by ben
The Central Valley’s first trade show for heavy duty truckers was just as much about educating the industry as it was about showing off all the shiny new toys.Taking place Sept. 6-7 at the Fresno Convention Center, the West American Truck Show featured some 60 exhibitors pitching everything from new tires, trucks and trailers to loans, insurance and logistics services.Around eight of those companies were also lined up to recruit visitors with job opportunities, while other booths were offering information on emissions regulations, fuel efficiency and other trucking related topics.Outside, several exhibitors dazzled onlookers with their polished rigs during the Show and Shine competition. Attendees inside were treated with entertainment from the Marie Wilson Band performing on the main stage, as well as other multi-cultural musical acts roaming the exhibit hall.The show was organized by Desi Maxx Media Group of Fresno, parent company of Desi Trucking Magazine, along with key sponsors Papé Kenworth, Pilot Flying J and Central Valley Trailer Repair (CVTR). And while not as large as truck shows in the Midwest, such as the Mid-American Trucking Show held in Louisville, Kentucky every year, Desi Maxx President Raman Singh said it was a good start considering 75 percent of the floor space was sold out.“The response that we got right now from our exhibitors, our exhibitors are already requesting next year’s dates,” said Singh, a former truck driver himself.For Bruce Kurtt, vice president of the West Region at Volvo Trucks North America, the show was a chance to demonstrate the company’s latest models of trucks using its patented I-Shift technology.“This has a 12-speed automated manual transmission much like a Porsche would be today,” Kurtt said. “There’s no clutch pedal so it shifts itself.”Kurtt said Volvo is still the only company manufacturing such systems in its trucks after 12 years, giving drivers up to 7.5 miles to the gallon compared to the industry standard of 5.5 miles to the gallon.Since coming into the U.S. in 1981, Kurtt said Volvo Trucks has marketed Central California pretty hard, especially to Indian drivers who tend to make the long hauls to the East Coast and need the most fuel efficient and comfortable ride for the journey.Other features of the truck include a large cab with a mini fridge, multiple drawers, a table that folds down into a mattress, an inverter to plug in electronic devices and space for a 20-inch flat screen TV.Dometic, also an exclusive name in the industry, was at the show promoting its battery-powered air conditioning systems for trucks.Channel sales manager Fernando Mejia said the standalone systems, first developed by the company eight years ago, can run for up to 15 to 18 hours on just 10.5-volts, reducing the need to idle the engine in order to power the truck’s own AC unit.“We’re the first one on this model to achieve the same performance on a back cabin as you would do on your standard rear AC,” Mejia said. Also drawing attention to the units is the fact that they produce no emissions, Mejia said, earning Dometic the coveted approval of both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.For truckers needing freight to haul, Fresno transportation broker JTS Transportation was at the show offering its 43 years of experience connecting carriers to produce and dry goods throughout the country.With five offices nationwide and nearly 10,000 trucking operators in its database, Carrier Relations Manager Alicia Ruiz said the company does a good job connecting carriers in the Valley to multiple destinations and also making sure there are enough goods to deliver on the trip back.“Small- to mid-sized companies are our niche. That’s primarily what’s here in the Valley and that’s what we kind of go after,” Ruiz said. “On a monthly basis, we’re anywhere from 1,100 to 1,200 loads a week. That fluctuates obviously with the season.”With the California Air Resources Board’s Truck and Bus Regulation requiring many trucking businesses to begin upgrading their fleets, Engs Commercial Finance had a lot to share about loan options and connecting them with lenders.Business Development Manager Steve Lujan said one incentive is the California Capital Access Program (CalCap) that works together with CARB’s On-Road Heavy Duty Vehicle Program to provide up to 100 percent coverage on certain loan defaults.Emissions regulations in California have drawn many to finance brokers like Engs, which has worked closely with dealers and lenders since 1952 to provide multiple loan and lease solutions to truck, trailer and equipment operators.“We’re not a bank so the banks are going to be very low but our average rates are going to be in the 8 to 12 percentage for a VC (Venture Capital) customer and we’re going to be in the 6s for A (Angel) customers and we even get down in the fives,” said Lujan, who covers the company’s Northern California territory.Besides its latest endeavor, Desi Maxx Media has also partnered with JGK Media Inc. over the past six years to put on the biannual APNA Truck Show in Abbotsford, British Columbia, not far from its headquarters.The last APNA Truck Show in June 2013 had approximately 15,000 visitors over a span of two days. Fresno’s show saw 3,400 attendants  and generated an estimated 250 room nights in the area.With so many commercial trucks making the daily drive through the Central Valley’s busy corridor, Singh said Fresno was ripe for a similar event, especially since the nearest trade shows for the industry are in Southern California. Even the Great West Truck Show held in Las Vegas was cancelled this year due to light attendance.“That was our  main motive; cost effectiveness for the people who are in the Valley because those are the people who need the truck show,” he said. “Those are the people who need the education so that has to be brought back to the Valley.”According to the Employment Development Department, around 7,371 companies are involved in specialized freight trucking in California, including 487 in Fresno County accounting for more than 171,000 commercial trucks.

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