Classism & Shoplifting Accusations: Why Intersectionality Matters

I went to a popular/famous bookstore here in Portland yesterday to find some thank-you cards and a gift for my friend. The device to enter my debit card password was acting up and the cashier treated me like it was my fault.

This reminded me of the time I was accused of stealing by one of their managers...I had been reading in the café there for my anthropology class and when I left, the security system went off. The security guard stopped me and the manager went all passively apeshit as they are wont to do here. She was very condescending and the security guard kept trying coerce me into admitting that I knew him. I was adamant in my refusal and denial. The item in question was a  book that I had bought at my college bookstore. It even had the sticker from that store still on it and was filled with my reading notes! It wasn't my fault that they couldn't find their only copy. It was humiliating.

I am aware that I am very White-passing, so I do not think that race was playing a factor. I do think that class was. When I was in college I dressed gothy or grungy (because it was cheap) and favored hoodies. I also had prominent piercings. I don't wear expensive looking clothes. I dress differently at work, but when I'm on my own time I dress how I please. What I notice is that people definitely treat me differently depending on the context and the clothing I'm wearing at the time. You never see well-dressed people being accused of stealing. This is why intersectionality matters. We have to be aware of all these things and how they work together.

Needless to say, I don't shop at that bookstore very often now.

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