By Fred Royal, President at NAACP – Milwaukee Branch
The incident on Monday involving Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers in Whitefish Bay and Milwaukee Bucks player John Henson is most troubling.
It is a blatant example of the type of racial profiling and stereotyping that occurs all too often in situations involving retail services, law enforcement and other aspects of life.
It is wrong, unlawful and unacceptable and is reflective of underlying biases and perceptions that need to be challenged and addressed if we are serious about providing equal opportunity and access to all.
In the recent matter involving Schwanke-Kasten and Mr. Henson, the victim of the profiling happened to be a professional athlete, a prominent member of a major organization with high visibility both locally and nationally.
In this instance, Schwanke-Kasten was very quick to offer a “closed door apology.”
However, we know that these types of incidents occur often and usually involve individuals who are not in the public eye.
In fact, the Henson matter is not the only incident of which we are aware involving Schwanke-Kasten. In these all-too-common occurrences, there are no apologies.
The victim is just left to feel degraded and humiliated as Mr. Henson described.
Based upon the blatant nature of the racial profiling by Schwanke-Kasten in the Henson incident and the fact that we do not believe it is an isolated incident, a “closed-door apology” to Mr. Henson is not enough.
Certainly, how this store and its employees handled this matter has affected Mr. Henson, but such an act also undermines and violates the humanity of all citizens. Schwanke-Kasten needs to take some bolder measures to demonstrate its clear acknowledgement of wrongdoing and serious commitment to change.
There is a need to take more meaningful measures to overcome these prejudices and biases in our metropolitan area and State, and to demonstrate to the community that serious actions to redress such matters are being taken.