Black Teen Busted for Buying a Really Nice Belt

Have you had a look at what kids -- regardless of their race or age -- are wearing these days? I didn't see my first designer anything until I was in college, and some middle school kids are rocking Gucci sneakers to school. Maybe the folks over at Barneys in New York City should get with the program because they seemed to think it was totally out of the ordinary for a 19-year-old boy to buy a $349 Ferragamo belt. Okay, it is out of the ordinary, but no less unusual than any of the other countless times when a well-heeled teen approached their counter with piles of clothes and a credit card. The difference? This boy was African-American. And because of his race, he was forced into quite a humiliating experience. 


Trayon Christian seems like your typical fashion savvy teen with foolishly expensive taste. He saw the Ferragamo belt he wanted worn by a rapper even before he entered the store, so the young man clearly had a plan. As an engineering student with a part-time job at Target, he also had the money to back it up. But workers at Barneys weren't convinced and, despite checking his state ID, suspected he was using a fake debit card.

Barney alerted cops and when they interrogated Trayon, they reportedly asked him the cringe-worthy question, "How could you afford a belt like this? Where did you get the money from?" Then they detained him in a holding cell for two hours while they looked into his debit card to make sure it was real -- it was. The teen has filed a lawsuit against Barneys for how he was treated, claiming they discriminated against him because of his race.

In the cops' defense, they've received loads of complaints from the high-end store about credit card larceny. Okay. But why this boy? What about him seemed so suspicious?

I, too, spent my part-time job money very stupidly as an older teen. I can remember walking into Saks with loads of cash I made waitressing and dropping almost $500 on the ugliest jacket you'd ever seen. No one ever questioned me. I've also stood in line next to very young girls buying up $300 jeans with credit cards. I'm guessing the store just assumes these girls have their parents' credit cards, and because they are blonde and carrying Marc Jacobs bags, they don't get a second glance. 

I think most of us would have felt humiliated if we were given the same treatment as Trayon. I feel sorry that he had to spent his day feeling guilty over absolutely nothing. 

Do you think it was right for cops to stop and question this teen? Do you feel he was the victim of racial discrimination? 


Image via Ferragamo

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