By James Huang
It’s the fashion industry’s worst kept secret: Abercrombie & Fitch is white. Their commercials star primarily white people, their storefronts are staffed by whites and their clothing lines are adorned with racist platitudes.
Abercrombie & Fitch continues to define what it means to be American, despite an ever increasing ‘minority’ demographic, with its trendy fashions that help the purchaser define themselves as white.
The birth of the United States was mired in the ideas of both freedom and slavery. These opposing principles inevitably led the nation from simply questioning the validity of these two values to a civil war and, eventually, to peaceful demonstrations to resolve these issues.
The result was unequivocal: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 stated, ‘It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.’ Forty years after its passage, a recently settled class action lawsuit will force this era of inequality at Abercrombie & Fitch to at last come to an end.
It is hard to imagine such a popular national retailer, one which defines for many what it means to look American, being involved with violating such a basic tenent of American society. Unfortunately, these tendrils of discrimination do not end at Abercrombie & Fitch.
If it were isolated to just this one retail chain, the popular definition of what it means to be American would not be synonymous with being white. The media, in all its glorious forms, often stars white characters with ‘token’ minorities filling lesser roles. In a society of conformity, it conveys the idea that minorities are only suitable for lesser roles in society