H O W A R D   U N I V E R S I T Y

Faces & Voices 5
An Anthology
of Verse and Prose

the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

E. R. B

Faces & Voices 4


"Thief in the Night
By Teniece Rael Thurston

      So there I was in Macyís one evening in December. As I stopped in each section of the department store looking for Christmas gifts, I felt a set of eyes watching me. When I turned to investigate the cause of my uneasiness, I noticed an employee standing a few feet away, appearing to do idle tasks. At first this did not appear strange, but when I noticed that the employee only moved as I did, a feeling of disgust overtook my whole body and I marched right out the store. 
      Why is it that every time I go into a quality clothing or jewelry store, I suddenly have a personal bodyguard following me around? Only this guard isnít there to protect me. Heís only there to protect his merchandise from me. He behaves as if no one in my position could possibly be able to afford anything in the store so I must be there to steal the merchandise.
      It is an all too common feeling to know that my presence presents some sort of fear in the hearts of some employees. True, some African-Americans do steal but has it gotten so bad that our every move should be monitored upon entering the store? I think not, because I refuse to believe we are the only ones who shoplift. So why are we discriminated against? Why are we singled out? Simply because many people have failed to acknowledge that fact that Black Americans are not in the same position that we were in years ago. Yes, we have come up in the world.
      To not be trusted based solely on the color of my skin leaves me feeling hateful, hurt, confused, and a bit sad. When will the world learn that every African-American is not out to shoplift? Many of us do have good intentions and are there strictly to purchase merchandise. God only knows when, but until that time what shall I do? Do I not shop in the department stores whose employees follow me around? Do I spend my life shopping from mail order catalogues so I wonít have to go through this problem? Absolutely not, why should I be deprived of shopping where I want to because some people are ignorant. I honestly donít know what more can be done to help people understand that I am just there to shop. Until I find the answer, I will just continue to walk into these department stores with my head held high in a confident manner. Maybe if they continue to see intelligent, well-mannered African-Americans buying their merchandise then their outlook will change. And for those who just canít seem to change I simply turn it over to God for only He can help them.

© 2001 Teniece Rael Thurston

© 2001 Howard University.
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse and Prose, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2001. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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