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“Shopping While Black,” CRJ’s Schulman Speaker explores the impact of racial profiling in retail settings

Dr. Shaun Gabbidon visited Northeastern’s Center on Crime, Race, and Justice as 2024’s Schulman speaker.

The Schulman Distinguished Lecture Series annually hosts prominent scholars to discuss important issues on race and justice. Dr. Gabbidon, a professor at Penn State University, discussed his work on consumer racial profiling (CRP). Gabbidon’s lecture “Shopping While Black: Consumer Racial Profiling” explores the experience of Black shoppers as they are profiled by retail associates and private security as shoplifters.

While other types of racial profiling are more well studied like traffic stops or airport profiling, there is little research surrounding consumer racial profiling. CRP is defined as the act of discriminating against a customer, by retailers, based on their race or ethnicity. Gabbidon’s lecture described the phenomenon of individuals being denied of service due to their race or ethnicity. Gabbidon’s research takes a deep dive into understanding the unwarranted belief that certain races are more suspicious and likely to steal, and the impact of these beliefs on retail access and experiences. His work helps retailers understand the problem, educate their workforce, and protect shoppers from discrimination.

“Very few people know about consumer racial profiling, it’s not widely studied. I want to change the perception of the significance of this type of racial profiling because it has the same detrimental effects as other types of profiling. For people who have experienced this it’s upsetting and the incident stays with them.” 

Watch a recording of Dr. Gabbidon’s lecture as he contextualizes consumer racial profiling, explains the impact it has on communities, and offers actionable solutions for retailers and law enforcement.

Dr. Shaun Gabbidon, pictured fourth from left, stands with the Center on Crime, Race, and Justice’s leadership team and CSSH Dean Kellee Tsai. 

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