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In Amazon Go, no-one thinks I'm stealing
I was still in pigtails and barrettes when my mother told me the rules of shopping.
Don't touch anything. Don't put your hands in your pockets. When you get old enough to carry a purse, don't dig through it while you're in the store. Always get a receipt. Always get a bag.
I thought she was overreacting. I just wanted to get a Berenstain Bears or Little Critter book from the magazine-and-school-supply aisle at Kroger, or a Barbie from the Toys R Us on our end of town. I knew I wasn't supposed to misbehave in public, especially when we were in a store, or I wouldn't get a special treat during our shopping trips. But I was too young to realize that my mother wasn't paranoid; she was just trying to protect me from a world that isn't always kind to black people.
This conversation about how I was supposed to conduct myself in stores is one that has taken place in many an African-American household. It's a similar version of the talk we have with our children about how to conduct yourself during interactions with police. I learned at an early age that I would be perceived as a thief the moment I walked into an establishment, and the onus was on me to mitigate the situation by policing my own behavior.
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