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Curly Nikki

Access Denied

By January 27th, 2021133 Comments
Access Denied
By Andrea Dawn

This past weekend I had an unsettling experience that I’m trying to make sense of. I thought that sharing the story and hearing your feedback might help me put it in perspective.

I was having a great time shopping in an urban neighborhood known for its hip, bohemian shops, vintage clothing stores, indie cafes and culturally diverse restaurants. I had already made a few purchases along the way when I came across a store that caught my eye. As I entered the store, a woman approached me.

Woman: (Caucasian, grey haired, unsmiling): “Can I help you find anything?”

Me: (Black, rocking a beautiful fresh twist out, smiling): “No, I just want to take a look. Is this a vintage store?”

Woman: “No it’s not…and the store is closed right now.”

It was mid-afternoon, the door to the store was wide open, and merchandise was on display on the sidewalk. The store didn’t look closed. But because there were no other customers inside, I decided it was possible the store was temporarily “closed” for lunch or a coffee break. I decided to give the woman the benefit of the doubt. I left the store, but with a very uneasy feeling.

About an hour later I returned to the store. Again, the door was wide open and merchandise lined the sidewalk. This time I could see 3 or 4 customers in the store, along with the woman I had spoken to earlier. I began to walk inside the store. 

Me, to the woman: “So it looks like you’re open now.”

Woman, stepping into the doorway to prevent me from entering: “No, we’re still closed.” 

Me: “Really? But I see customers inside.” 

Woman: “We only let in people if they know what they want to buy. If you don’t know what you want, you can’t come in.”

By this time the customers in the store were standing around, listening to the conversation. 

Me: “Well, I’m looking for some yoga equipment. Do you have any?” 

Woman: “No, we don’t have anything yoga.”

By this time I had run out of patience. I was no longer smiling. 

Me: “I don’t know what’s going on, but I have a right to shop here. If you have a problem with that, you can call the police. But I am coming into this store.” 

The woman stared at me for a moment then slowly moved aside to let me in. Of course by this time I had no intention of buying anything. I just wanted to prove a point to her: that she couldn’t prevent me from shopping at the store. If I had called the police (and I would have), the law would be firmly on my side.

As I browsed, one of the customers who had overheard the conversation, a White woman, silently gave me an affirming nod and a thumbs-up. Another female customer, also White, made eye contact with me, smiled and whispered: “She can be really rude sometimes.” A boy about 15 or 16, also White, smiled shyly at me and said, “How’s it going?”

I stayed in the store just long enough to make my point, and then I left. During the time I was in the store the woman did not speak to me or offer to assist me.
I’m not a mind reader, and recently I’ve been trying hard not make assumptions about what people may be thinking or feeling. I can’t say for sure that this incident was racially motivated, but of course that’s the first thought that came to my mind. I’ve never encountered a situation like this before. It was completely unexpected and completely humiliating. I felt like I had been transported into a scene from Driving Miss Daisy or The Help.

I also couldn’t help but think about the other customers in the store. Although they did offer some passive support after I entered the store, none of them spoke up while the woman was trying to deny me access. I wondered, if I had witnessed an encounter like that, would I have spoken up? I like to think that I would have.

Needless to say, I’ve filed a complaint with a local consumer protection agency. In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out what lessons I can take from this experience. One thing I did learn for sure: it feels really good to stand up for yourself in the face of unreasonableness and ignorance.

Has anyone ever tried to deny you access to a store or public facility? If you had been in this situation, how would you have handled it?


  • KosherKurlyGirl says:

    Ha,when anyone does that light screening business on me,I always protest "Oy, I just printed those fresh an hour ago,don't smudge the ink!" That usually gets a laugh then an apology. I try to keep it polished myself,but just let them know that Miss Diva don't play that.

    I have had a clerk follow me around a bookstore in Paramus NJ until I turned around and loudly asked her " I'm sorry,but has it occurred to you that there are black women who actually go into bookstores to purchase real live books to read? I;m actually a very good reader, I don't even need books with pictures anymore!" Some folks just need to be put in their meagre little places.

  • Jasmine says:

    I'm only twelve and people don't directly deny access but they do make it clear they don't want me in their store. Like I'll be followed around and stared at like I was wearing a bright neon colored sign that read:Black Girl In The House! People can really be ignorant but I'm glad I'm not alone.

  • Zaina Louise says:

    I love the way that you handled this. It made me smile. Show your class!

  • Samantha Smith says:

    If I were you I would still pursure legal recourse. They didn't give you a legitimate excuse. Just saying you're purse is different is in no way a proper excuse and bolsters its racial connotation. The event happened and therefore you have grounds to take action against them. If this happened to you can rest assured its still happening to other women.

  • mrsleggett says:

    Every month my husband and I go grocery shopping for the entire month so we usually have 2 baskets full of groceries and we always pay with cash. Well, one time we strolled up to the check out counter and before we could even begin loading up our groceries the cashier automatically asked us if we were paying with food stamps. We both looked at each other knowing exactly what this was about but kindly said we were using cash and you would have thought we turned white right in front of her eyes!

  • mrsleggett says:

    This happens to "us" all to often. I've had clerks "undetectably" follow around the store trying to make sure I didn't steal anything. I've experienced my id being checked when no one else ids were checked. And don't get me started on store salesmen. I love to shop at high end store but often times find myself being stared at as to say "What is she doing in here. She can't possibly afford anything in here" This coming from the snotty women that "work" there. I've walked in stores where the salesperson spoke to the caucasian folks that walked in before and after me but acted as though I didn't exist. And of course I always have to make a point. After picking up a few items or looking as though I was actually going to make a purchase I would finally receive some acknowledgment and/or assistance. I would let them help me and retrieve other items for me and really just use their time up but then when I was ready to purchase I would give the sell the someone else. Just my mean way of getting back at them. lol Maybe the wrong way of handling it but it made me feel better and I thought it taught them a lesson. Other times I would purchase from the first person that actually spoke to me while all the other salespersons that saw me first passed judgement on and missed out on a really good sale. Also, I hate it when they automatically assume you're broke and so they let you know right away of the clearance items that no one wants are in the back. That right there really chaps my hide! lol

  • Desiree Carey says:

    This is horrible. I don't know exactly how i would react or handle a situation like this….but probably similar to how you did. So sad! Im sorry that happened to you!

  • Bobbie says:

    Ive recently experienced a racist incident in Charleston. I wanted to get a manicure and wax. The women insist a group of women arrived before me. When her co-worker corrected her but she still refused to take me. I just simply walked out. I refused to waste my hard earn dollars and precious time with a business that employ people with that kind of mind set. I know I will never go to there the next time I visit Charleston. Definitely will tell others about my experience.

  • Andrea Dawn says:

    Hi Sophia- I live in Vancouver but I'm moving to Toronto this fall. I know that Toronto has lots of diversity, unlike Vancouver, but I also know about the racial tension that exists in Toronto. It should be an interesting experience!

  • Tina says:

    My husband and I were renting this room and this from this Asian lady and their was this white couple that was renting out the basement. Well one day we were having a conversation and the woman starts talking about the black people that used to live there. She mentioned that she didnt like them and the type of music they listened to got her nerves. Then she started telling us about a time when some BLACK guys came by and they were listening to rap and all she could think was and i quote"THEM FUCKING NIGGERS"…0_0. I was stuck cause i didnt know what to say or do. I grew up around my own race so i never had to deal with racism at all. needless to say i was so glad when they moved out

  • Bonita says:

    I have flown through Vancouver and felt the blatant racism at the airport. Now I know its the culture of the place. Quite unfortunate!! It's a beautiful place to visit.

  • KikiRocksKinks says:

    That is insane… your bag is the only one that actually looks similar to a purse and they wanted to take that!!?? Insane!!!

  • Sophia says:

    Im from Ottawa as well (kanata really) I agree with Yasmin, there is not a lot of diversity there.

    Andrea, do you live in vancouver or visiting?

  • Jnnifree says:

    Racism plain and simple. I am also reminded of the quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

  • hunnybun says:

    I'm so sorry you had such a negative experience and had that been me I think I would have just stood there like an idiot for a while shocked then I would have left and cried. I've never had to deal with blatant racism and I hope I will never have to

  • Fii says:

    Wow, that is very fishy, but you handled yourself beautifully.

  • Jacinta W says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous! I have never been denied access to a store but I applaud you for standing up for yourself.

  • Cassie says:

    OMG that happened to me at 7/11 I pulled out my debit card and was told they dont take EBT I was shocked!

  • DesGlitterNutz says:

    I think what Bobby was ttrying to say is that some store have that sign up and everyone has to abide by the rule, but clearly this was not case with this situation. Im sorry for you experience, I hate stuff like that its really embarrassing. And at the risk of offending you and anyone else. You dont even have the type of look, you dont look hood or anything. I know how that sounds, but I think we all get where Im going with this.

  • Rebecca says:

    I too have also experienced something like this. I live in Everett,Ma. It took place in the afternoon around 5 or so. I was walking from the library with my little cousin ( 10 ) and my little sister (8 ). On my home I noticed a beauty supply store that I never realized there before so I decided to check it out. When I entered the store I was greeted by a young Hispanic male who, as soon as my appearance registered to him I guess stiffened in result and began to nod reluctantly. I thought nothing of it and looked at my younger siblings saying "We're in a store now so, dont touch anything or you wont be able to go to the library tomorrow." I proceeded to walk into one of the isle which wasnt long at all for the matter. The labels on the products were a mixture Spanish and English. When I picked a few up to read the back I had no luck. The guy behind the register came to me and asked the cliched question " What can I help you with?" I responded " Oh, Im just looking for a shampoo or conditioner." he directed me to another isle and I thanked him. NOw heres where I started to raise my eyebrow. When we got in the isle and I started looking at the shampoos ingredients like did before the guy who directed me there stayed with me. He stood there right next to me. Now youre probably thinking "Well maybe he was waiting for you to ask for help." Yes, that was my conclusion at first but he wasnt paying attention to what I was picking up. He was just standing there and looking at my bag every now again as if he was waiting for me to slip something in there. I felt so uncomfortable. I decided to leave with my siblings and said goodnight to the two workers who remained silent. The one who gave me a nod at the entrance repeated the act giving me a forced smile ( you guys all know one when you see it ) along with the hand gesture "shoo-shoo" Like really? I know this is wrong of me but I didn't expect Hispanic people to act this way towards me since I am sure they experience racism too. Needless to say I have never went back. Although I past by the store almost every day to go to my orthodontist and other places that are located by there. Their windows and doors are clear so I know they see me.-__-

  • Shay says:

    I'm sorry that happened lady but handled it well. That woman was rude and I'm glad that you didn't let her stop you from making your point and going into the store anyway.

  • Race Does Matter says:

    Sorry you experienced such bigotry!

  • Shay says:

    Girl you just made my day! I love that one!

  • Sue says:

    Gotta love that move you pulled with the dollar bills! LOL!

  • Sue says:

    I have had a similar experience: I walked into a store with a friend (who is asian), and immediately, the lady in the store said: "Can I help you?". Her whole demeanour was My friend was infront so I was not sure if it was me she did not like–or maybe both of us? Who knows…The main thing is she did not seem to want us there. My friend was the one who initially suggested we enter the store, so she calmly explained we wanted to look around. She let us in, all the while "following" us around with her eyes. Needless to say, we had lost all interest by then and after a few minutes we left. Andrea Dawn, you are very brave for standing up for yourself. Usually, these situations happen when you least expect and sometimes you are not sure what to do. It also hurts and I hope you can put it behind you as well!

    I am not surprised that the other shoppers did nothing. I think that ABC show "WHAT WOULD YOU DO?" did an episode with a similar situation. Many people looked on disapprovingly, very few spoke up. It's no excuse when an injustice is occuring but it also shows how many people are willing to put themselves on the line for another person. It takes courage. That's why very few will actually speak up!

  • MariaErica says:

    LMAO!!!! I too like the way you handled that. As much as racism tries, it will never defeat logic!!!!

  • ABRUNNIN says:

    SMH! "Racism still alive they just be concealing it" -yeezy

  • Guest says:

    this was Miami

  • copelli says:

    That's what I was thinking….is John Quinones gonna pop up in this story, but alas, No.

    I think the author handled the situation well. I know many of us may have not have been so 'nice' about it. The ignorance that abounds unrestrained amongst some white folks, no longer surprises me.

    I understand giving someone the benefit of the doubt, but if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and your GUT is telling you it's a duck….it's a damn quacker…er, cracker… I mean, duck.

  • Danielle King Murray says:

    Sorry you experienced that. Growing up my late grandmother was very fair skin on one occasion we went to local chain store to purchase my dance outfit. I wondered away so excited when a clerk told me to take my dirty self back home. She proceeded to comment to the woman she thought was white how black kids run a muck just like roaches ( yes she said that). My grandmother who saw I was upset almost pulled that woman across that counter before regaining composer and grabbing me and exiting store cussing the whole time. My grandmother talked to me in depth apologizing for her behavior ,while telling me how ignorant people can be and how beautiful and perfect I am.

  • Patrice B. says:

    I'm sorry you had to experience this. It may or may not have been your hair, but like everyone else has said, the color of your skin. It's hard to fathom that racism still exists. My sister and I have also gone through something similar to this. We were in our local drug store, and an older employee was following us around the store (we were the only Black shoppers). I finally caught on and had her walk away from me so we could split up. He was still following us around the store. I walked to the front of the store, and announced to everyone that my sister and I were being followed and I didn't appreciate it…that we did not steal. The employees didnt know what to say and the man following us was very embarrassed. It won't stop ever, but standing up when you know you've done nothing wrong makes a bold statement. I commend you on your actions.

  • Karen says:

    1350 & 1005 are cheap compared to places charging $1500 and up

  • Bobby says:

    What the eff are you talking about? I clearly see ppl with big bags!! My point was a story here has a sign saying NO LARGE BAGS!! This store clearly isnt Family Dollar, are you blind and not see the store signage!

  • lolo says:

    I do the same thing. I'm very aware that this crap still exists. If I don't get the greeting like the "others" out the door I go. They don't deserve my $$.

  • Bridget says:

    You certainly handled the situation very well. I am eagerly awaiting the followup story.

  • Netta says:

    I can honestly say you handled that way better than I would have. The one time I experienced something like this, I was in the mall and walked into a torrid where I knew both the managers because of my frequency. I guess the new employees didn't know how to treat people because I was followed around the entire store. I got tired of it, turned around and asked the boy what the hell his problem was. He says and I quote "I just want to make sure that no merchandise disappears mysteriously." I proceeded to pop out my phone, call both the managers, as well as my family's lawyer who's a close family friend and church member. He got fired that day.

  • CurvyCurly says:

    So pitiful this type of behavior is still going on but I thought you handled the situation very wisely and your followup is meaningful and appropriate. Shame on the customers inside who did not feel the need to address the ignorance occuring right before their eyes. Just like watching a bully do his/her work. Yes I've experienced similar incidents, too many to discuss because of the line of work I'm in coupled with the geographic location but addressing the problem with appropriate responses and actions is the only way to force change and reduce ignorant behavior.

  • BraidsnTwists says:

    It's a shame that even in this day and age we still have to deal with blatant racism. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. But you handled the situation well and I'd like to think I would've handled it as well as you did.

    I've never had something like that happen to me. But I used to live in a predominantly white area. If you were in the department store after the usual "may I help you", instead of going away, they'd follow you around the store like you were going to steal something. I remember one time turning around and saying to the employee when I need your help, I'll call you and ask for it. Then she walked away with a huff and left me alone. Needless to say I didn't get anything from that store.

  • Sarah says:

    It's horrible and makes you feel terrible but you handled it with dignity and class so don't let it get you down. Shake it off and remember – Some people are just idiots and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. She must have a real boring life if she has to create imaginary enemies to fight, either that or she must have a really sad life to be carrying around that sort of animosity 24/7. Keep your chin up. x

  • Guest says:

    I don't know about "access"…but maybe an easy exit? ;-P My husband and I lived in the western suburbs of Chicago for a few years. One gorgeous fall weekend day, we went to the Eddie Bauer store in downtown Naperville. –Hubster needed a messenger bag for commuting, so we decided to stop in and take a look around. The doors of the store were propped open when we entered–awesome! Nothing like healthy dose of fresh fall air, right?
    We went hunting around the store for their bags (no help was offered, of course). We finally landed on them up near the front of the store–not close to the (open) door, but not far away either. Next thing you know, this saleswoman comes literally *running* from the cash register area to the front of the store and shuts the doors. We weren't really paying too much attention to her, but then she said something to the effect of, "These kids around here–they walk by and try to swipe the bags–it's almost back to school time."
    Again, we didn't think anything of it at *that* moment a) because we didn't consider ourselves "kids," and b) because we were deeply engrossed in analyzing the function of a bag he kind of liked. But, the minute we were done shopping and had stepped out of the door, it hit us like a ton of bricks why she said and did that. There was hardly anyone else in the store, and in that particular affluent shopping district I can't imagine anyone running in, grabbing BACKPACKS and trying to get out of the store–logistically, it wasn't the easiest thing to attempt, and I'm sure the police would have been there before you could blink twice.

    Needless to say, we haven't set foot in an Eddie Bauer store since, and we never plan to shop there again. Oh, and it turned out, they didn't have what Hubster wanted anyway
    Andrea, I think you handled the situation beautifully and with class. Will be looking for a follow-up to see how it turns out.

  • Janay says:

    Im sorry you ladies have had to go thru this… honestly I am almost in tears. You would think that society has come so far from racism but it is still alive. A thief comes in all shapes colors and sizes, it's so unfair to judge someone based on how they look or the color of their skin. Forgive them ladies some people are just stuck in their ignorant ways.

  • Cassandra [C.] says:

    off topic but: luxury building. . .$1350/month! where do you live, because I pay $1005 for a bedroom. smf. . . gotta love DC

  • Desireé Battiste Watkins says:

    I say put her butt on blast. Sounds like a great piece of info to send to the guy who does that "What Would You Do" show on NBC!!

  • Misty Jones says:

    And this is why more black owned businesses are needed along with great customer service. You don't have to spend money where you are not respected. Hurt them in the pockets is the best way.

  • Cassandra [C.] says:

    0_0 really?? That is beyond crazy!!

  • Mani says:

    This is extremely ridiculous.. What is the problem with people and their prejudices.. It makes no sense to me.. I just wonder why people have soo much hate in their heart because of someone's skin color or hair texture, or sexual orientation. WE are all human and deserve to be treated with respect. YOu would think that in today's times people would be a little more accepting of others, but it seems as though we are moving backwards. I applaud you for being the bigger person ..I dont know what i would have done if I was in that situation.

  • Cassandra [C.] says:

    like the way you handle that. thumbs up

  • yewande says:

    I'm so sorry you had to go through that. Honestly I feel sorry for that white women, obviously she has brain development issues. I use to get frustrated at people who disrespect me but by brother told me one day that you should feel sorry for people like that because they have nothing to do with their pathetic ,depressing, unfulfilled lives expect express hate for others .

    I lived in brooklyn till I was 16, then moved to a small town near Houston, Texas. At first I was excited because I would meet New people in my new high school. Honesty I'm not intimidated by white people but there were so many i wanted to disappear. Eventually I met a lot of New people and some became great friends of mine . One day during junior year in English, we were reading the Salome witch trials and had to color witches and hang them to the ceiling( our teacher was being lazy and halloween was near). Anyway this recheck kid.sitting behind said "this is just like how we hang niggers" loud enough for me to hear. I froze up but kept doing my work like I didn't hear him. When class finished two white kids that overheard apologized for what that guy said. It was nice of them but that moment will always be in my memory. sometimes I wish I had spoke up. But the past it the past and ignorance isn't worth my time or energy.

  • Brooke B. says:

    The only time this kind of situation has happened to me was in the oriental stores they're very suspicious of ppl with darker skin whether if you're purchasing or not. It's sad that ppl of different races have such a negative image of every minority that they come into contact with.

  • Erika A. says:

    Wow. Racism is def still alive. I'm sorry to read about your experience. You handled it the right way. Luckily, nothing like this as happened to me & I hope it never does. I wish I knew where this store was!

  • Ambee says:

    I love vintage and consignment shops. In the area where they are, there are a lot of snotty white rich people. I started selling my clothing at one of the stores. When I walk in the store, they never welcome me in. I'm like, "I'm buying something and I always buy a lot from here ao I don't know why they don't want to speak". Anyway, I think they judge me on what I give them. I know there policy because I sell from them all the time but they refuse to buy my stuff at times when I know that someone will buy it.

  • rethea says:

    Unfortunately, yes I have had a similar experience. I wasn't as calm. I lowered my voice, spoke as softly as I could and addressed the situation on the spot. I expressed how offended I was and made sure she was clear that I was going to share the situation with everyone I knew. She apologized and attempted to explain. I shut her down by walking out.

  • Taylor says:

    That's really heartbreaking. I've never had something like that happen to me, but since I live I the South I wouldn't be 100% surprised if it ever does. Its hard to believe people can be so rude to people they don't know, even if they arent fond of the person's ethnicity. It really burns me up inside but I hope karma works its magic for you!!

  • LA says:

    it surely is a shame, but i'm not surprised. the fact that it's 2012 shows how much more progress we have to make as a country.
    jim crow laws were in effect for almost 90 years…we've been a desegregated country for only about 47 years. it's gonna take us a long time to get past the past. unfortunately because many people still have that the 'jim crow mentality'.

  • Yasmin says:

    I also live in Canada (Ottawa). I've never been to Vancouver but I've heard that aside from the large Asian community, there is almost no diversity in Vancouver and very few black people. Perhaps, this is the reason this individual thought her outrageous behaviour would go unchallenged. Regardless, this should NOT have happened. Please do follow up with how this issue is resolved.

  • Kudos says:

    WOW!! I don't even know, I don't even know… Racism SO still exosts, people just turn a blind eye to it

  • NancyM says:

    I had a similar event happen to me in, of all places, a beauty supply store. I walk in to check out products and buy a few things (my favorite thing to do, by the way), and as I'm walking up and down the aisles, I notice that one of the staff, who is African American, is following me and counting all of the items that I touch (presumably to make sure I didn't slip something in my purse. I was LIVID! I really wanted the products that I had in my hand so I got in line to pay, she's still following me by the way, but by the time I get to the counter to pay I had a change of heart. I couldn't in good conscience give them my hard-earned money when I was treated like a common criminal the entire time I was in the store. So, I handed the items to the cashier, who is Asian and the owner, and let him know that I will never shop here again since his employee obviously thinks I'm a thief. I have never gone back to that store again. I can't believe that a fellow Black person would do that to me….

  • nicthommi says:

    I hope you follow through with this. Sounds like there is no way this white supremacist chick was the store owner. I hope you get this exposed in the media up there. She deserves it.

  • nicthommi says:

    Are you blind? Do you not see the pictures of the white people with LARGE backpacks? Clearly the issue was that the "large bag" in question was in a black hand. And this is why racism continues…people like to explain it away with unevenly enforced rules, claims of mental illness, or rudeness.

  • Samantha Chiamaka James says:

    There's a store (I won't mention it's name) in a mall Southampton, England. The store has some really nice clothes, but I prefer to go to other branches of that store. Why? Because that specific store is quite racist. Whenever a mixed race or black person walks out those things at both sides of the door that blare whenever someone steals something or is leaving without paying for something they have with them, blares real loud then someone working at the store would come over and search you or something making it look like you're a thief. This only happens for blacks or people who are mixed race (part black).
    It's quite insulting and annoying.

  • Miss D says:

    She mentioned in a post above that she is taking legal action against the store, so she cannot release that information yet. Please read.

  • Miss D says:

    My goodness – reading this made me furious! I'm glad that you are taking legal action. Once it's settled, I would plaster the name and address of that store all over the place and run that business into the ground. You handled yourself well, Andrea. All the best to you.

  • R. Brock says:

    Not sure about the laws there, but I'm sure that in most states in the US, if not all, she actually had the right to deny service if she wanted. Your best recourse, if you all share similar laws to us, is to spread the word as I don't think you have any legal ground. It is so unfortunate that people behave in such a manner. smh

  • Monica Jenkins says:

    Urghhhhh….I'm almost lost for words. I so thought we were past this. What a rude awakening. She should NOT be allowed to operate a business. She has failed the basic art of customer service to say the least. She also needs a little therapy for her anger/hate issues as well. Something deep is going on there.

    Hey Andrea, I know this was awful. And, I can't imagine how I would feel. Well, yes I can. TERRIBLE!! But, anyway it seems like this woman is missing "LOVE". She needs to experience kindness. And, what better person to do it than the one that has been offended the most. Yeah, I KNOW…sounds crazy. But, I KNOW with everything in me it would break her. I believe in the POWER of LOVE.

  • I Am Your People says:

    I assume she didn't name the store to prevent Curly Nikki from being sued. Had it been her own blog, she probably would have named names

  • tamar paoli says:

    Yes back when I was in highschool and Hollister was only in "white malls" my mom and I went shopping I went inside Hollister and when I looked back I noticed my mom didn't come in, so I went to look for her and she said lets go "they don't want us in there but they want our money…lets go! " Confused I was like "huh ?" Apparently me being totally oblivious to the people around me because I was so happy to go in I just walked in the store focused on the clothes… my mom was paying attention and noticed the manager smiled and said" hi, may help you ? " to all the white people who went in and when I went in he made a face of disgust and said nothing my mom caught him and got really upset….that she didn't even want to go in and allow me to spend my money in there

  • derealnaturalista says:

    So Sorry to hear you had to have such a negative experience. I agree with the other comments that you handled yourself with grace. I also live in Vancouver, BC, Canada and can see how something like this can happen. I have found since I lived here that my interactions with some people here have been quite odd. Odd meaning it seems that their perception of me seems to be based on negative stereotypes(of black people) found in the media. I think a lot of it is based on ignorance and lack of exposure to black people in general(there is not a lot of us here). Myself and my husband have experienced at times people staring at us so intensely we have to ask if they are ok. It sounds to me definetly like racism and I am glad you are being proactive and filing a complaint. Canadians in general tend to be in denial that racism happens here, they see it largely as an American problem. Things are only going to change if you call it what it is and report it. It is the only way things are going to change around these parts

  • Natasha Walker says:

    Im mad just reading this. A few weeks ago I went on a weekend trip with my cousins to the San Marcos Outlets in Texas. I dont remember the name of the shoe store, but something crazy happened. My cousin is really into shoes and picked out a super cute pair of Jessica Simpson's, but her size wasn't in stock at the store so the saleswoman offered to have them shipped to her hometown. We continued to browse while my cousin followed the saleswoman to the register so she could call in the order and make a payment. She placed the order and my cousin's discernment kicked in. She said she didnt hear the lady on the phone, but she knew what she said. The lady on the phone offered free shipping and the saleswoman said, "Not for her." (Dive under a bench because the ish was about to hit the fan.) My cousin said, "Why did you do that?" The saleswoman couldn't say anything. She knew what she did. Her face was on the floor. My cousin asked her again and the saleswoman added the free shipping. Of my cousin said other things like,"You're lucky I wasn't a secret shopper today." She got the saleswoman's name and reported her. I dont understand. We didnt "look" like a threat or anything. Smh, it's 2012 and we still have to demand equality.

  • motherlovin3 says:

    I believe 100% this happened. I don't think she should disclose the location until she has pursued all options for addressing this matter. There is something very mature about her not disclosing the location.

  • motherlovin3 says:

    Experiences like this make me more protective of my money and where I spend it. I have had a few experiences like this. Sometimes I have been able to overlook the poor customer service and find a few things to buy. Even when I make the purchase, I find myself bringing it back because my self-worth tells me I should only be spending my money where I treated like the queen I am.

  • DecemberPumkin says:

    Is it illegal to throw the clothes on the floor on "accident" because
    thats what i would have done you handled this better then I probably
    would have good job

  • DecemberPumkin says:

    Is it illegal to throw the clothes on the floor on "accident" because thats what i would have done you handled this better then I probably would have good job

  • Bobby says:

    The Family Dollar store here has a sign on the door that says "NO LARGE BAGS"…sorry about your experience.

  • denise says:

    Yes, I had a similar experience. I live in a predominantly white city, Madison, WI. I was told I could not enter a cheap, vintage retail store because my purse was too large. I was told I could either leave my purse (and wallet) at the register with the staff, or I could not enter. I told them they were being ridiculous and walked out. I started walking home and cried a bit while I called my husband. Then, I decided I wasn't taking it and walked back. I stood at the store's doorway and took pictures of the customers inside carrying backpacks and other large satchels. I also took pictures of others entering and leaving the store with large purses. I confronted the staff and told them they were letting others in with large bags and they said mine was different and I could not enter. I briefly thought about calling an attorney on the basis of bias/racism (my huge afro was tied in a scarf in the shape of a turban). Unfortunately, I was prepping to have major surgery in a few days – the very reason why I wanted to enter the store, to buy a silk scarf to protect my lovely twists while in the hospital. I've attached a picture of customers with backpacks, the store signage and a pic of me outside the store that day.

  • Pecancurls says:

    Andrea you handled yourself like a true lady. It is sad that in 2012 we still have stories like this. The others in the store were probably "paralyzed" with disbelief. It is hard to lay any blame on them for not speaking up. The last time I recall such a blatant experience was in the 80's in the hood in south fla. Black people were routinely followed in convenience stores that were owned by another minority group. I went in just to see. The woman was on my heels pretending to be straightening shelves as she followed me. I turned around and asked if I could help her and explained that I did not plan on stealing anything, then walked out.

  • Anonymous says:

    Canada, no surprise, there Hockey fans have shown how racist they can be….I have no knowledge of laws there so I can't really add anymore to that but I certainly would put that business on blast so they an get as much negative press as possible! All its takes is one media source to get wind of the story and then main stream media, its happened lots of times with other companies. Ambercrombie, Cracker Barrel and Dennys to name a few

  • MIA says:

    YOU absolutely handled yourself extremly well….I was kinda shocked as I was reading it… but do know that situations like this happens often.. I would go into a store, nornally your are greeted by the sales persons…( I've worked in Retail I know) …as I walk in no one says anything, but right behind me are a few White customers who are greeted and assisted immediately…I browse around a bit… even trying on clothes, but don't purchase a thing. Sometimes when I'm not greeted, I do a full circle and out the door I go..

  • Gaye Glasspie says:

    In a word "wow"

  • Guest says:

    So sad. I can relate. I have been followed in stores such as Dillards and Whole Foods. I have been questioned by the concierge twice on whether or not I live in the luxury building that I paid $1350 per month in rent. I get constant stares. It can only be because of my skin color. It is sad that in the year 2012, we are still dealing with this nonsense.

  • Jennifer says:

    While this is upsetting, I will not spend my money anywhere that I'm not wanted. I'm glad you stood up for yourself but personally, I wouldn't have bothered to go into the store.

  • mara says:

    and to that all i can say is i would have done the same thing but im truly sorry for your experience…how dignified of you not to mention the name of the store…i would have blasted it throughout the internet. God Bless you

  • Keiontae Poole Eason says:

    Wow, this is terrible. But I'm so glad you stood up to her.

  • Myrtie Rena Williams says:

    I have to say that the one time where I have experienced really blatant racism similar to your story I was wearing my hear in a big blown out twist-out and I have to say that I couldn't help but think that it had something to so with it. But honestly, that's what makes me proud to be natural because it's like I'm saying, "here I am, exactly the way that I'm supposed to be, and if that makes you uncomfortable then that's YOUR struggle, I have fought for my place in this world and found myself and if you feel like you can't live with it then that's on you!" Because I mean I have nothing at all against my sisters who wear their hair in straightened styles, but I feel like being natural it is like "i'm black! here it is, and there is nothing that you can do to forget it!" I love my natural hair community and the support we give each other to change the face of blackness into more of our own terms. Happy Nappy Sistas!

  • L Denise Moore says:

    I would have left and came back with like ten more black people. That is crazy. Weird looks and being followed around the store is bad enough, but to be told the store is closed. That is ridiculous in 2012! I can't even believe it.

  • Andrea Dawn says:

    Hi everyone, this is Andrea Dawn; I wrote this article. I really appreciate all of your comments and words of support. It was a difficult thing to experience, and your feedback is helping me put it in perspective. To everyone who asked me to name the store: because I have a complaint filed against the business, and because I may be pursuing other avenues of recourse, including legal recourse, I can't name the business right now. I can tell you that it's located in Vancouver, Canada, and that it's an independent store with only one location; it's not part of chain. When the dust settles on this, please be assured that I will write a follow up article so you can all hear how the story ends. Thanks again for your support.

  • LouellaS says:

    I'm sorry Andrea was humiliated and demeaned and I'm sorry no one was humane enough to object with her. Ever heard of Asian, Jewish or White women being denied access and told they don't look as if they know what they want to buy? How spend-ready and knowledgeable did the 15-16 year old White boy look? More so than an adult Black woman? If they knew what they wanted to buy, why were customers bothering to browse? If this happened to someone Asian, Jewish or Arab there would be a boycott profiled on the local news or their civic and business associations would drop the hammer.

    I agree with others, knowledge is power and word of mouth is a helpful way to prevent others being made to feel like the author did. Consumer protection agencies have little bark and less bite in my experience. And some may disagree that this is racially motivated however it is discrimination, not bad manners. The shopkeeper knew enough when threatened with legal action to back off, that speaks volumes. This has never happened to me, but I like to think I would've taken her picture, FB'd it and called the police. Andrea was very courageous and handled it perfectly, she stood up for everyone who has been treated this way and everyone who will be.

  • Natalie Morrisey says:

    So disappointing that this still happens, and others want us to think racism no longer exists. Good for you sister standing up for yourself with grace and style.

  • BrownGirls Fly says:

    Hey Nikki! That is down right ridiculous. People can still do that in 2012? What the heck? What city were you in?

    I love the way you handled it … let her know what your rights were.

    I think you should have done something crazy like picked up an item, then put it back down, then put your hands in your pockets … just to give her small heart attacks while she watched you shop. LOL!
    I guess I'm a little sensitive. I had a pretty rough racially motivated incident happen when I was in Italy a couple weeks ago. During the rest of the trip and since my return, I've been thinking a lot more about race and discrimination and the appropriate way to respond to the craziness.
    I actually wrote about it on BrownGirlsFly. I so don't mean to hijack your thread … or tout my own story. But, as I was reading your post, I realized it was triggering some of the same feelings in me… Thought you might like to know another brown, blogging chica feels your pain.

  • Megan Montgomery says:

    I had an encounter at two places at Denny's restaurant and the fashion show mall in Las Vegas, NV. My mother and my little brother and I went to this Denny's in this predominantly white area, we sat down in the front and waited for someone to help us we sat there for 20 mins. The diner was not full about five People were in there all white. The manager even looked at us and kept walking, so we got up and left. We filed a complaint against them. I went back one day with my class from high school (2008) they still were racist even though we had Hispanics and whites with us. We all left and went to Ihop they had no problem serving us. Years down the line just my mother and I went back everything changed, new manager and staff, so they served us. In the fashion show mall it was my first time going with sister-in-law and my brother. I went to check out some stores I was followed around and asked what I was looking for I said," I am just looking" the women said, "oh." I then asked her what was the price of this item because I did not see a price, she rudely said," if you need to know the price then you cannot afford it." I walked out of the whole mall and I will never go back and never been back.

    Megan Montgomery

  • Nikell says:

    You did the right thing! I'm glad you stood up for yourself. It's sad that in this day and age, people still encounter racism like that. The other customers not speaking up for you doesn't surprise me. I remember watching something call "What would you do". This guy was getting beat up ( think it was b/c he was Hispanic) in broad daylight on the sidewalk and no one even called the police. smh

  • Anonymous says:

    One of the customers should have spoken up in your defense — silence is acceptance. And, racism is a mental illness. For that salesperson to believe that her behavior was justified is pure delusion.
    Thank you for standing up against her! You made a rift in her version of reality that will change her and those that witnessed her rantings. No matter how slight the change may be, change is change. And, it will be for the better. 🙂

  • dajewel says:

    I have doubts that this happened because the store n it's location never was disclosed. By her not sharing another black person could have gone in today and encountered the same if not worse situ.

  • Yolanda says:

    As I read this, I felt myself getting angrier and angrier as if this was happening to me…this is clearly discrimination/profiling and I applaud you for responding the way that you did. I just wish there was more that could be done. It certainly would have been nice if the other customers would have spoken up. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and it is so important that we stand up for ourselves as well as others…

  • LaShon says:

    That's obvious racism and she better be glad you didn't make more of a scene. Have you talked to the owner of the store? The store needs to be named.

  • JsyGrl says:

    You were very kind to not give the name of the store. There was a similar story about a sports bar in NC that denied black people access, and if they did get in, treated them angrily and threw them out. The police did nothing to help. Well, after this happened too many times, they started a fanpage against the sports bar and more and more stories came out. It's appalling that this sort of thing still happens in this day & age. I probably would have taken a pic of the store and posted it on every social site that I belong to.

  • Concerned Curly Girl says:

    WOW I'm not one to prematurely scream racism but this obviously seemed like a blatant case esp. since the other ppl in the store weren't at the counter I assume they didn't know what they wanted… I'm glad you reported it because there are too many ppl out there who want a job and would gladly help anyone so they could keep their job. Ignorance should not be tolerated!

  • shasha says:

    no doubt about it, you ladies are waaay classier than me. i live in south carolina and this kind of thing happens all the time. racism is a state of mind and a way of life, it won't go away ever. so long as there is fear and ignorance and how on earth can you do away with them?

  • Elaine says:

    Can you at least provide the city where this happened?? I know it could happen anywhere, but geez, that is horrible. I still get that feeling of, I wonder do black people come here when I go to certain places, and feel relieved when I see one. I don't want to go anywhere black people don't go on a regular, because I would not be that kind if something like this happened to me.

  • Jess Ica says:

    I could feel my eyes welling up with tears as I read this. You handled this situation really well. To be honest, I probably would have brought that "black" out that she was expecting to see. Something like this happened to me when I was only a child. My step mother was from Costa Rica, and was ordering a cake and other latin style finger foods from a local latin bakery for my birthday. My mother (who is Panamanian) got my birthday baked goods from this bakery every year before this. Anyway, my step mom ordered for me in Spanish, and when the employee saw that my step mother was ordering for a little black girl she refused to take the order. My step mother cursed her out. 15 years later I haven't been back since, and I pass there everyday.

  • naturalily says:

    I'm so glad you filed a complaint—the nerve of her!!! Unfortunately I have experienced the same in stores where there is mostly black clientele and I can't believe this CRAP is going on still in this day and age. Can't you publish the store's name. I probably don't live in the area you were in but if I did I'd walk in with some black friends and see what she did then. I think I would have spoken up—I pray I would have. I am fairly outspoken and not afraid to make a scene although I try to keep it to a "polite" scene, such as that could be! My granddaughter is mixed and OHHHHHH does it P**S me off when I get comments or am treated differently because she is with me. She sometimes feels bad about being dark when we are a glow in the dark skinned family and if anybody gives me crap about her they get an ear full from me. I grew up in the 70's and things seemed to be getting so much better then—at least with the people I ran with——I thought we were on our way to getting this crap beat!!! From all races!!! How can people truly not realize that color is just color????

  • Courtney Hall Lee says:

    I feel very strongly that you should call them out publicly. This happened and it is true and I think other people of all races should know it happened before they choose to spend their money there.

  • Jeannette says:


  • Bren Jackson says:

    This same situation occured to Oprah in NYC. She got the owners name and called to complain. It was racist. I agree with the comment that you need to name the shop. Racism can only grow and spread in darkness. Shine the LIGHT!!!

  • Lala says:

    I'm saddened to read about this. The more things change (the advances we've made in history) the more things remain the same (this woman's blatant racism.) I'm happy that you stood up for yourself but I wish the other customers would have vocalized their opinions or walked out of the store! Their is NO WAY as a customer I would remain in a store while someone else is openly being humiliated. I'm glad you filed a compliant. It's funny that I live in one of the richest areas in the country (Fairfield county, CT) and go into rich neighborhoods to window shop and I'm treated so kindly, but when I visited the south and went into stores in average neighborhoods and even tourist spots the sales attendant's acted as if I was invisible. No "hi" "hello" or acknowledgement that I was there.

  • Jeannette says:

    I remember one time I was at a Barnes and Noble book store in an affluent neighborhood. I gave the cashier a three $20 bills, he told me that they have had some fake bills so he held it up to the light to see if it were real. There were other people in front of me and I did not see him do that to any of them them. So when he gave my change back which consisted of a $10 & $5 bill I held it up to the light to see if it were real. He said, "what are you doing" I told him that I don't want him giving me any fake money because that's what was given to him. He says it was only the $20 bills that were fake. In return I told him that if people are running around giving the store fake money, I wanna make sure that I have no part in it and I am checking ALL my bills before I leave this counter. Guy didn't know what to do and was in complete shock. Don't have to get ghetto, but gotta let People know that we don't play that LOL

  • simone says:

    i agree that this was blatant, and kudos to you for reporting this incident. I sincerely hope that something positive would come out of it. I am in agreement w/ a lot of ppl here who say that you should tell the store name, but I understand if you don't. have you thought about talking to the manager of the store about this as well? going to some news outlets? i am truly sorry for this experience, and that you had to do go through this; it is a perfect example that clearly we are nowhere near the "post-racial society" that some ppl claim we are in. best of luck to you.

  • ChiCurls says:

    This was blatant racism. The way you handled this was great. I sincerely hope you will provide us with the name of the store because this woman does not deserve anyone's business.

  • Kris says:

    What's the name of this store? And where is it? I want to make sure I don't spend any money there.

  • Patty says:

    What a horrifying and embarrassing situation to be in. I've never experienced anything like that but I did have a woman ask for my tote bag, which was clearly my purse when I entered a boutique, and other customers were in the store with their bags, shopping with ease. I refuse to give them my handbag and walked out the store. Stores like these need to be put on blast so unsuspecting customers will not give them a single cent in revenue!

  • atlcharm says:

    I really hope the writer posts the name of the establishment.

  • Miss Marie says:

    This just completely made my blood boil and brought tears to my eyes. I think that you handled the situation very well.

  • tanni says:

    Yes. There was once a owned store here in Edmond ,OK and everyone knows down here that its very money and race orientated in certian parts but a friend and i literally had a woman come up to us while we were brousing through the shoes that "We dont allow window shoppers. If your going to buy then buy if not then i know payless will allow you to try on their pretty shoes ya hear na?" in some kind of accent like a slave. we were so upset and decided ya know lets just sit and shop a little we ended up leaving about three house later but not before showing her that we could actually pay for whatever we wanted we just didnt wanna do it here. and left

  • hairscapades says:

    Hmmm … now that I think about that … is it overt racism? I feel like it's questionable and just demonstrates what some refer to as "white privilege" and what I refer to is rude and a lack of home training.

  • Kenzi says:

    Wow. You handled yourself pretty well in my opinion. You could have sued her for demoralization of character, but you were the bigger person and that's reputable. How are people supposed to know what they want in a store before they go in? That makes no sense and would not stand for a moment in the court of law.

  • JTB says:

    I believe you handed this situation very professionally. But I also think that you should tell the name and address of this store. Whether it is a franchise or privately owned what this sales associate did was unlawful. She was trying to publicly embarass you why not teach her the power of one voice, one computer and our collective dollars!

  • hairscapades says:

    I read through all of these comments hoping that the writer had replied with the name of the store. This is disgusting and I was so happy to read at the end that she reported the store. Now, it might not be the policy of the company, maybe it's a single shop and just an employee. Who knows? But, if it's an employee, she needs to be addressed and dismissed if that type of behavior continues. If it is condoned by policy or silence, then the shop needs to suffer the consequences for their culpability in complicit racism.

    Oh, and as to the question. No, nothing that overt has ever happened to me in a store. The type of rudeness and ignorance I've experienced is when I've been standing in line and another customer acts like I don't exist and cuts in front of me. Then, the cashier will sit there, knowing that I was in line, and not say anything. One time I was so in shock, I said something, but I didn't insist that the other customer move aside. I was young and was just flabbergasted. In my old age, I've stopped the cashier and customer in their tracks and told them flat out that I was in line first, cut back in front of the person who tried to cut me and then frowned at the cashier the entire time.

    Anywho, I really do hope the writer comes back and tells us the store and location!


  • Piscesgirl says:

    You should definitely put them on blast. That's what social media is all about. You're no different than Yelp, Twitter,etc. Places of businesses should know better in this day and age. You never know who you're selling or NOT selling too. Your popularity isn't the point but this isn't the 60's anymore. The internet does exist and having a platform like you have is perfect.

  • Qutanna Brooks says:

    WOOOOW…. Some ppl still don't believe that this stuff still happens but I think it's because the turn their head, give a deaf ear to the sitation, and/or have never had to deal with this. As a African American Women things like this and worse has happen to be & it's a HORRIBLE FEELING. The sad thing is that this won't be the last time & she's probably been allowed to do this for a Long time.

  • TheOriginalMrs.Jones says:

    Well living in the south I have experienced this also, now I have never been denied access to a store but once I was doing some grocery shopping and as I approached the register the lady yells that the food stamp machine is down and she can't check me out, so I asked her what makes her assume I have food stamps, and she says because all y'all have food stamps… And after I told her what body part she could kiss and talking to the manager I walked out with my money and have never been back to the store again

  • Cheryl says:

    I think that you handled it very well. I would have handled it the same way. I also think you should tell every one which store it is because it is very important that we not support businesses that disrespect us. What she did is unlawful and you should also let the NAACP and any other social organization that is active in your community know about this incident. The lesson is to be diligent about everything that is going on because when we are not history will repeat itself.

  • Courtney J. Jackson says:

    This made me tear up a little maybe she was just crazy i believe giving people like this the benefit of the doubt is conquering in its own right! 🙂

  • naijamodel says:

    I have to applaud you for standing up to her. WOW!! Honestly, you should post the name of the store and location. You have the ear of so many consumers, this may be a time to use it.

  • joelle desNegra says:

    Wow. I have NEVER heard of such blatant racism. It's usually more subtle – you walk in and they ignore you. That I have experienced. This? I'm baffled. You should certainly share what store it is for a myriad of reasons: 1. Your readership is huge – and you'll garner support and hopefully the shutdown of this store. 2. We won't try to shop there – what if they have an online store? They should NOT have our money. and 3. So the word is out. The more dings this place gets – they'll either change or close their doors. We have NO place for businesses like this. I hope other customers left without buying anything. It's great that they gave you a thumbs up and silent nod – but they should have been more outspoken about their support. Her behavior should NOT be tolerated by anyone.

  • lynn washington jr says:

    here is the worst way u can hurt this business word of mouth the bbb this is stupid all black people dont steal i ran into a problem like and went to the internet and helped crushed a business …

  • GC31 says:

    This definitely sounds like some kind of profiling. Whether its your skin color, your hair, what you may have had on. I've had a similar experience and sadly it was from a person of color. I think in my case it was a bias against my perceived age coupled with my skin color, and then my area code. One way or the other its wrong, disgusting, and embarrassing. I'm glad you stood up for yourself. It disgust me that crap like this still happens, and the thing is no one wants to believe that it can happen. Hence, you have people who are so shocked they don't even know how to jump in and stand up for others. After all, racism, bigotry, and prejudice supposedly don't exist anymore. I had lodge a complaint in my situation as well. I don't think much was ever done about it.

  • Angel Jackson says:

    WTH! What city was this? You handled yourself very tackfully, but OMG I would expose them to every newspaper, blog, and any other way to bring embarrassment. It sounds like the sales lady had been rude before. If she is not the owner of the shop, she is ruining the owner's profit with her attitude of bigotry.

  • Numero Uno says:

    Wow! That's crazy. I've experienced the typical following you around the store thing, but I've never been outright denied access. It does sound racial…otherwise what else could have been her issue.

  • Tianna LeGardye says:

    No question about it…racism. I would have done the same, browsed and walked out. That store wouldn't get any of my money. As for the other shoppers, their responses weren't surprising either. We still have a long way to go.

  • B says:

    That is an experience I don't wish on anyone you handled yourself very well. Now mention the store so we no where not to spend our money, ppl like that can stay inside their own home – not own businesses.

  • thebusybella says:

    Wow….my mouth is wide open right now. Good for you. You stood up for yourself and although you didn't change that women's opinion…you let her know you were not going to accept her blatant ignorance. This is the year 2012, right?!?! I WILL post this on my FB page and share this with everyone I know. I would also love to know the name of the store because I would personally go in there myself…just to make a point. But I understand you taking the high road by not publicizing the name.

  • ThandiweW says:

    Disappointing. What's the store's name, and where is it? If you were pleased with your shopping experience, you'd share it. Good customer service interactions have value. So do these, just not for the merchant. Really sad, but not entirely surprising. Much has changed, much has not.
    Peace and good to you.

  • ksegundo says:

    Please do tell which store it was in the event I'm in the area, I too, can attempt to browse. If the same thing happens, we could be a bit closer to determining the origin of her dis ease.

  • Elizabeth Garcia says:

    wow that is insane. Is this a store in NYC? I want to try to go inside and see if the same thing happens to me. I've never had this happen to me in person, but I always see it on TV shows from the 80s/90s, like it's a relic of the past. Guess not

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