During a recent trip to her local mall, Portland, ME resident Aaliyah Simmons repeatedly had to clarify to customers that she was not an employee.
“Sorry, I can’t help you find those jeans you saw online,” said Aaliyah to a woman shopping at American Eagle, “I don’t work here.”
Aaliyah, who was clearly carrying branded bags full of her purchases, was nonetheless forced to explain that she did not actually work in five out of the five stores that she visited on her shopping trip.
“No, I don’t know what department the scented candles are in,” Aaliyah stated to a customer at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. “Yeah, no, I don’t know where the cast iron pans are either.”
“I’m not employed by this store, I’m just here shopping, like you,” she added.
Aaliyah expressed confusion and frustration at the ordeal.
“This honestly happens all the time,” Aaliyah explained. “I think some people assume that if you’re black and at a store, you must be there to help them. But like, black people shop too? I don’t really understand that assumption.”
“Also, like, all the employees at this Victoria’s Secret are wearing the same uniform, and I am not,” she added. “Wouldn’t you use those context clues?”
But her fellow shoppers seem determined to keep up with the stereotype.
“I’d like to try on these two sweaters, but I don’t think I want this third one. Could you put it back?,” said a woman browsing at GAP.
“No, I can’t, that’s not my job,” Aaliyah reportedly replied. “I don’t work here.”
Sources confirm that Aaliyah was reported to the manager of that particular GAP as a ‘rude and hostile worker’, despite her continued lack of employment there.