Black Family Says Nike Store Manager Racially Profiled Them

A Black family in California says they were racially profiled at a Nike store while they were trying to purchase a $12 basketball.

The incident reportedly took place at the Nike store in downtown Santa Monica on July 5, CBSLA reported. TaMiya Dickerson posted a video of the incident to Facebook, writing that she and the toddler’s father, Joel Stallworth, purchased a basketball for their son, Sammy, from the store. After the purchase, they crossed the street and the manager of the store asked them to stop, accused them of stealing the basketball, and demanded to see their receipt, KTLA5 reported.

“I looked at her in disbelief. Like it was a joke but she wouldn’t stop following my family and I. She reached out saying again return the stolen ball. I looked back at her and told her ‘I didn’t steal the ball, I paid for this’ as we begin to exchange words I keep walking,” Dickerson wrote on Facebook.

The manager reportedly flagged down Santa Monica police officers who got involved in the incident. After showing the receipt to officers, Dickerson demanded that the manager apologize and issue a refund for the basketball.

“This seems to be the American way for people like us. This has happened, far too many times to me personally. My son, I would hope, will never have to experience this again,” Dickerson wrote.

Stallworth told KTLA5 that the entire situation was “humiliating” and said the manager never apologized over the incident.

"To accuse somebody of stealing, you need to have evidence, right? So she just accused me. She had zero evidence that I stole anything. She couldn't have evidence because I bought it. She discriminated against me," Stallworth told the news station. "She planted an evil seed in the officer, so as soon as the officer came up to me, he said, 'Sir, give me the stolen ball.'"

The couple hired an attorney following the incident. The family’s attorney, Stephen King, told KTLA5 he wants to get to the bottom of what really happened.

"What we're hoping to do is to get Nike to have some sort of understanding and meeting of the minds to find out if this was an isolated act, or is this something that is more pervasive within the society of the employees that they hire," King told the news station.

The North Star reached out to Nike for comment but did not hear back in time for publication. Nike spokesperson KeJuan Wilkins told the news station that the company is currently investigating the incident.

“We are taking the recent situation at our Santa Monica store very seriously, and we are currently investigating the facts. We have reached out to the family to express our deepest apologies, and we will continue to work with our teams to deliver on our expectations for consumer experiences,” the statement read.

This is not the first time a Black person has been racially profiled in a chain store this year. In May, a Black man said he was racially profiled at a Starbucks in Florida for using the bathroom. Lorne Green previously told WFTS that he was at the coffee shop on West Brandon Boulevard in Tampa Bay, Florida when he used the bathroom before placing an order.

While using the bathroom, Green, 44, heard employees banging on the door asking if they should call fire rescue. Green said he was afraid to open the door of the bathroom.

“I didn’t know what was on the other side of that door,” Green previously told the news station. “‘Cause no one identified who they were and it felt like a crowd of people and I was thinking, ‘Do you really want to open this door right now?’”

Green’s lawyer, Jasmine Rand, told Bay News 9 that the employees asked to call fire rescue because it was a way for him to get him to leave the chain coffee shop. “This incessant knocking starts,” Rand previously told the news station. “It became very clear that asking him if he needed fire rescue was not actually about helping Mr. Lorne. Simply, all my client did was use the bathroom while Black.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.