Kyle Sales, a 16-year-old Lowe’s employee in Washington, stated that he was asked to remove his shirt after a client objected that it was racist.
A supervisor verbally scolded Sales and instructed him to remove the shirt that said “Black Panther, Wakanda Forever,” giving him the option of buying a new one or going home to change.
She says that the client stated his clothing is insulting and racist, Sales said. This is from a movie. How can something be racist?”
He was enraged, but chose to disguise himself with a sports sweater.
Sales said he was furious. That simply didn’t seem fair in light of everything that is going on in the world right now. It’s not racist. He shouldn’t be penalized for wearing a movie t-shirt.
A friend later told Sales that the woman had come back the next day to ask what the penalty was for wearing the blouse.
She walked in yelling, ‘What happened to that boy? What was his punishment?
Sales had started working at the hardware shop a few months before. He had just graduated from high school and was hoping to save some money before starting college at Washington State University.
The encounter reminded him of prejudice he experienced in high school and at past employment. He said that students at his school called him the N-word and that a boss at a previous employment referred to him as a “colored boy.”
Kimberly Sales, Sales’ mom, described the event as “pure, unadulterated bigotry,” adding that Lowe’s owed her son “more than an apology.”
When contacted for a response, Lowe’s subsequently notified a local CBS station that it had apologized to Sales.
Mr. Sales should never have been ordered to change his shirt, and they have personally apologized to him. They recognize that this is a teachable moment, and they will take action to coach and train the store managers to help avoid this from occurring again, a Lowe’s spokesperson said, adding that diversity and inclusion are important to the culture at Lowe’s, and they remain committed to fostering an environment in which all people are secure, treated fairly, appreciated, and respected.