Salehe Bembury’s recent shopping excursion in Beverly Hills turned into an unsettling stop and frisk situation, and an instance of what he calls, “Beverly Hills while Black.”
The Vice President of Sneakers and Men’s Footwear for Versace hit Rodeo Drive to stop by the Amiri store, then also popped by the Versace store to, “grab a few things.” What followed were police abruptly stopping him for jaywalking (crossing the street outside of the designated crosswalks), and a search before letting him go.
While Bembury admits to jay walking, he said (via his Instastory), “I’m from New York, I’m used to jay walking, my apologies,” the police’s conduct skewed discriminatory (the normal procedure is a fine, not a search and frisk). He also presumed that his big Versace bag was to blame for him appearing suspect to the cops. He said, “I’m getting searched for shopping at the store I work for.”
Racial profiling is nothing new. People of color have all experienced the feeling of being followed by security or presumed of stealing in luxury stores (remember all those instances at Barneys?). But LA based reader Nakia aka @TheNotorious_Kia offered the following insight: “I was on Rodeo Drive on Monday. A guy walked up to the Louis Vuitton store line smoking a whole blunt talking ignorant as hell. I’m a black woman from LA and I was so embarrassed!! And that was just one of “them”. Rodeo Drive looks like a swap meet! I love my people but they are over there being ghetto as HELL! It’s okay to be authentic but we know the difference between that and just acting ignorant for no reason. What happened to this man wasn’t right but there’s a backstory. I know you guys have heard of the younger black men going in the stores with multiple EDD cards trying to buy Gucci and stuff. Sometimes we ruin it for ourselves. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing the other day. And that was on a Monday!“
Recent riots and fraud activity might have stores on high alert. Still, it’s a complete shame and utterly deplorable that an executive at a luxury fashion company would be stopped and searched. But as @MontagePR said on Instagram, “This shows [that] affluence and position matters not at the end of the day. SMDH. #ThisisAmerica.”
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*Donatella Versace responded to the incident on Instagram, writing, “I am appalled this happened to Salehe Bembury today. He has been a consultant at Versace for a long time and the behavior he experienced is totally unacceptable. He was stopped on the street solely for the color of his skin. Stay strong @salehebembury. Sending you love and support x”
*Congrats to Bembury on his position. May you continue to flourish and thrive, despite adversity.