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Thursday, 12 November 2015 16:03

It does matter if you are black or white – to Apple

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Staff at Apple’s Highpoint store in Maribyrnong asked a small group of year 10 students to leave its store. They were in school uniform. They were black.

OK so that’s the news. Apple investigated and the store manager has, after prompting by the student’s headmaster, apologised. These students, who as children, came from Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Eritrea and Egypt to settle here are as Aussie as you and me. They are black and apparently menacing.

The Apple employee, captured in a video posted on Facebook and Twitter, is seen talking to the students, all in their school uniforms, outside the shop. "These guys are just a bit worried about your presence in our store," the employee says. "They’re just a bit worried you might steal something. Guys, end of discussion, I need to ask you to leave our store."

To be fair I am certain that he did not use the ‘B’ word. But let’s assume that was at least part of the reason.

Hold the apartheid bus! School kids may be unruly sometime, they may be boisterous, they do hang around in small groups, but colour should not make a difference. As the late Michael Jackson said:

They Print My Message
In The Saturday Sun
I Had To Tell Them
I Ain't Second To None

And I Told About Equality
And It's True
Either You're Wrong
Or You're Right

But, If
You're Thinkin'
About My Baby
It Don't Matter If You're
Black Or White …

I'd Rather Hear Both Sides
Of The Tale
See, It's Not About Races
Just Places
Faces
Where Your Blood
Comes From
Is Where Your Space Is
I've Seen The Bright
Get Duller
I'm Not Going To Spend
My Life Being A Color

In a multicultural Australia such behaviour must not be tolerated.

Now I am not going to condemn Apple for this after all as Jackson declares there are both sides to a story. This ‘gang of five kids’ could have looked like trouble to any uninitiated, xenophobic, semi-skilled, pimply faced sales person but there are ways to handle this issue that don’t result in viral Facebook and possible fines.

I have worked in retail for much of my earlier life – my father, and for several generations before him, ran a retail business.

My father taught me not to judge a book by its cover and that today’s children are tomorrow’s customers. If the Apple sales person was worried about the potential for crime (and most of its high value items are solidly locked down or behind counters anyway) he could have accompanied them in their quest for knowledge (or simply to have a good time at the mall) and helped educate them instead of scarring them for life. its not that the kids are are black - any form of descrimination hurts even if real or perceived.

And the end of the story

On Wednesday afternoon, Maribyrnong College principal Nick Scott accompanied the six boys involved in the incident to the Apple store at Highpoint where they sought an apology.

At about 3.30pm a senior manager from the store met with the teenagers.

"She apologised to us and told us that we are welcome here anytime," Mabior said. "It feels like we have justice now."

Highpoint Centre Manager Ryan Ling said: "Melbourne's West is a multicultural area and we want to stress that Highpoint welcomes all guests."

Apple's response

An Apple Australia spokeswoman told Guardian Australia that the company would not be commenting.

iTWire did not seek further comment from Apple Australia because 'It does not comment on anything."

Well not quite the end

It reminds me of colleague Sam Varghese’s experience at an Apple store – way back in 2011. You can read about it here.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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