Survey Shows People of Color Feel Targeted in North Georgia

A survey of 30 University of North Georgia students shows people of color are more likely to feel excessively watched or accused of shoplifting when shopping in northern Georgia. 

The results of the survey show that 72% of white students have never been accused of shoplifting and never feel excessively watched while they are shopping. 28% of white students sometimes feel excessively watched, but have never been accused of shoplifting. To contrast, 67% of students of color said that they often feel excessively watched, and 33% have been accused of shoplifting. 

via ung.edu

Dr. Andrew Johnson, director of Multicultural Student Affairs on the Dahlonega campus, says the way people of color are portrayed in the media has not only caused employees at stores to be more suspicious of people of color, but can also cause people of color to be hyper aware of the stereotypes surrounding them. He says, “My heart and my opinions have nothing to do with my appearance. It’s our learned experiences through the media, our home, our friends, our family, newspapers, anywhere where you can receive information, that causes judgment just [based on] appearance.” 

Johnson says that the victims of these stereotypes can become conditioned to believe that they are excessively watched while shopping due to their previous experiences. “You can’t unwire someone’s brain,” he says, “It’s really just a vicious cycle.” 

Dr. Johnson urges students who have concerns about this topic or would like help exploring their experiences to reach out to MSA