Black Workers, News, Sports

Wisconsin jewelry store locks out NBA player

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by Frederick H. Lowe

John Henson , a 6′ 11” forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, recently signed a $45 million contract extension with the team, but his huge bank account wasn’t enough for him to get him through the front door of a suburban Milwaukee jewelry store to shop for watches.

Jon Henson. A $45 million contract couldn't buy his way into a jewlery store.
John Henson. A $45 million contract couldn’t buy his way into a jewelry store.

As soon as the clerks at Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers in Whitefish Bay saw Henson’s black face, they locked the door even though it was during regular business hours and told him to go away.

“After I rang the doorbell twice more,” Henson wrote in an Instagram, the clerks ran to the back of the store and one of the women called police. “I don’t feel comfortable letting him in,” the woman who is not identified is heard telling the police dispatcher.

Henson was a victim of microagressions in which white men and women, black women, Asians, Hispanics and others automatically assume black men are thieves, robbers, murderers or generally suspicious persons who warrant being watched.

Henson is not the first black man nor will he be last to suffer from microaggressions.  In 2013, Barney’s, an upscale men’s and women’s clothing store in Manhattan, ordered New York City police officers to arrest Trayon Christian after he purchased a $350 belt with his Chase debit card. A Barney’s clerk claimed the debit card was stolen. Police hauled Christian to a police station and locked him in a cell before contacting Chase. Bank officials confirmed that indeed Christian was the debit card’s  owner.

Christian returned the belt to Burney’s and got his money back.

In Henson’s case, two cops arrived at Schwanke-Kasten. “I was then approached and questioned about the dealer vehicle I was in with dealer plates,” Henson wrote. “It was part of an endorsement deal with Kunes Country Chevrolet. ” The police ran the plates and discussed doing more of a background check on the vehicle.

The police then asked him what he wanted, and Henson told them he was trying to look at a watch. One of the cops then went to the rear of the store and told store employees  it was safe.

Thomas Dixon, the store’s owner, apologized, explaining the store had been robbed  three times in last 18 months. He claimed one of the get-away cars had the same dealer plates as Henson’s.

Henson said in his Instagram message,”This was one of the most degrading and racially prejudiced things I’ve ever experience in life and I wouldn’t wish it this on anyone.”


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