Teen Employee Denied Shifts at Banana Republic Over 'Urban' Hair

Manager fired after incident goes viral
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2017 3:05 PM CDT
Teen Worker Told Braids Are 'Too Urban' for Banana Republic
From Destiny Tompkins' Facebook post about the incident.   (Destiny Tompkins / Facebook)

A manager at a White Plains, New York, Banana Republic has been fired after telling a black employee her braided hair was "too urban" for the store. Destiny Tompkins, 19, posted about the incident on Facebook Wednesday, explaining that after a district manager visited the store, Tompkins was called into a meeting with her manager, a white man. "He said, 'The district manager came in and she pointed out your hair.' I said, 'What is wrong with my hair?'" Tompkins recalled to ABC 7. "'It is a little too urban and unkempt for our look and image. We were wondering if you could take them out,'" she says he replied. She explained to him that many black women style their hair in braids to protect it from getting brittle in cold weather, but he told her he couldn't schedule her for any shifts unless she removed the braids, and recommended she use shea butter instead.

"Box braids are not a matter of unprofessionalism, they are protective styles black women have used for their hair and to be discriminated against because of it is truly disgusting and unacceptable," Tompkins wrote in her Facebook post. "There’s no reason why a white person should feel allowed to tell me that I can’t wear my hair the way that I want bc it’s too black for their store image." The post went viral, racking up more than 53,000 shares so far, and on Monday, Banana Republic told BuzzFeed the store manager has been fired. "Banana Republic has zero tolerance for discrimination. This situation was completely unacceptable, counter to our policies, and in no way reflects our company’s beliefs and values," the company said in a statement. It's not clear whether there were any repercussions for the district manager or whether Tompkins, who was considering quitting, will remain at the store, the New York Daily News reports. (More racism stories.)

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