cheryl_johnson_2013A woman who says she was racially profiled by Belk department store workers in the company’s Asheville Mall store has announced that Belk has agreed to take action to address the situation.

Cheryl Johnson, in a newsletter sent out by the Asheville activist group PARC, said she was the victim of racial profiling in the Asheville Belk store in July. Johnson said at the time that a loss prevention specialist stopped her and ordered her to open her purse following an accusation of theft. She said she was detained by store officials. Following media attention generated by Johnson’s account in the newsletter, Belk agreed to do the following, according to Johnson:

Because of you, plans are underway by UNCA’s Center For Diversity Education to sponsor a public lecture for the broader community on Consumer Racial Profiling in Buncombe County and professional development for retail employees. The training part would take place at Asheville Mall and for all mall employees.

In the spring of 2014 Professor Shaun Gabbidon, Ph.D., Professor of criminal justice at Penn State Harrisburg, has agreed to provide the public lecture at UNCA for the broader community. The Center For Diversity Education at UNCA will publish the dates and times in their newsletter.

Because of you, Belk entered an agreement with Building Bridges to provide training for their staff. Belk will provide financial incentives to their employees to take the training indicating a commitment on Belk’s part to support greater attention to serving all customers.

Because of you, Belk is exploring how they might provide financial support to the Center For Diversity Education to pay for the speaker, Shaun Gabiddon. This demonstrates a commitment on Belk’s part to learning from this mistake and supporting institutions that can help them make changes to serve a diverse and changing community.
People who never shared their hurtful experience of consumer racial profiling have been able to talk to me about their own experience. Inspired by what I did, two people reported to me that they took action in a proactive manner rather than resigned acceptance.

Let’s Celebrate. Too often we forget to celebrate the few victories we work so hard to achieve. I would like to plan a celebration for what you did to make a difference. If you wrote a letter, let me know.
Write to me at Cheryl Johnson <> by November 20th. Additional information is on the way about the celebration.
Wherever you live, whomever you are, whatever you did, THANK YOU for standing with me and making a difference!!

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