Sundiata Cha-Jua/Real Talk | Starbucks incident another example of retail racism

The arrests of Rahson Nelson and Donte Robinson at a Philadelphia Starbucks on April 12 and its aftermath raise thorny questions about race, class and gender.

Since the dawn of American apartheid in the 1890s, criminality has been racialized. With the abolition of convict lease laws, the two Great Migrations and the emergence of the black consumer market after World War II, systems of racial control shifted to also police the black shopper. The focus changed, but the racial reasoning remained.

As Khalil G. Muhammad argues in “The Condemnation of Blackness,” in the U.S. white imagination, individual white Americans may become criminals, but, African-Americans, as a group, are innately criminal….

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