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“I am not writing this to explain myself”: Roxane Gay on Receipts and Racial Profiling

In the store, the young man kept requesting the salesperson who made my sale on the intercom. This went on for quite some time. He continued to ignore me. During this entire exchange, I don’t think he said a single word to me. It was like I wasn’t even there. The salesman finally came to the front of the store and verified I had indeed made this purchase. He pointed to the video game and said, “That is on the receipt,” and the young man said, “I know, but…”

Let me repeat: My receipt was not good enough. I have never heard of needing to have a salesperson verify a purchase when a receipt has been proffered but I shouldn’t be surprised. The rules are always different when shopping/driving/walking/existing while black. The experience was particularly galling because this happened over what was both a significant and an insignificant amount of money.

“There are a great many amateur investigators wanting me to explain the situation in detail,” Roxane Gay writes. “They are contorting themselves to find a reason why race was not a factor in this situation.” Of course they are, of course it wasn’t; how else will we ever get to the post-racial society of our dreams? Read the rest of this story at her Tumblr.


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