In news that will have you shaking your damn head, a young black Banana Republic employee was punished for wearing braids to her job as a salesperson because, you know, whiteness.
Destiny Tompkins, who works at a Banana Republic outpost at the Westchester Mall just outside of New York City, says she was pulled aside by the shop’s management (aka the Hair Police) after the store’s district manager, a white woman, stopped by for a visit.
The offense? According to Tompkins, her manager “Mike,” a white man, told her that her protective box braids hairstyle was not “Banana Republic appropriate” and was “too ‘urban’ and ‘unkempt’” for the store’s image. UGGGGHHHHHH!!!
“I came in [to Mike’s office] and he questioned me about the dress code and immediately, I thought there was something wrong with my outfit,” Tompkins wrote in a viral Facebook post published Wednesday. “But he sat me down and questioned my hair instead.”
And that’s not even the long and short of it. Mike refused to schedule Tompkins for future shifts at the shop until she took out her braids. When Tompkins pointed out that her box braids helped protect her locks from breakage in the cold-weather months, Manager Mike hairsplained her, suggesting she apply shea butter to her strands instead. But Tompkins was having none of it.
Naturally, the whole experience left Tompkins in knots. “I have never been so humiliated and degraded in my life by a white person,” Tompkins wrote. Feeling too “uncomfortable and overwhelmed” to complete her shift, Tompkins went home early.
After calling the store to find out the manager’s last name (Tompkins has only been employed at the store for a month), her manager refused to give it to her. So she took to Facebook to share her story, and in just three days, her post has received 10,000 likes and over 36,000 shares.
Yesterday, Banana Republic’s spokesperson Sheikina Liverpool told The Cut, “As a company, we have zero tolerance for discrimination. We take this matter very seriously and we are actively conducting an investigation. We are committed to upholding an inclusive environment where our customers and our employees feel respected.”
For now, Tompkins hopes her experience exposes the “blatant racism and discrimination” practiced by the brand. “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 because it’s too black for their store image.”