Emily Wurramara says she was racially profiled at a Sportsgirl store in Hobart: “This is unacceptable”

"I know when I’m being stereotyped and subjected to racism because I have lived it, seen it, traumatised and hurt because of it"

Emily Wurramara has spoken out about an incident of racial profiling she says she experienced over the weekend from two members of staff at a Sportsgirl store in Hobart.

According to a post that the Warnindilyakwa artist made on her Instagram account today (December 20), Wurramara was Christmas shopping with her sister yesterday when she spotted the two staff members “eyeing [her] out”. Wurramara claims that one of them directed their colleague to follow her when she started browsing through jewellery, subsequently asking to mind the items Wurramara had picked out.

“The lady asked me if she’d like for me to take these things and put them on the counter,” she wrote. “I’m not dumb and I’m not stupid – this has happened to me so many times, sometimes even when I have a basket. It’s way too common!”

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Wurramara said that other customers in store also had things in hand but were not “approached or offered”.

“I looked down and saw I was wearing my [Clothing The Gap scarf that reads “always was, always will be”] and then I looked at her and her friend who was peeping behind in desperation and worry (unnecessary) shook my head and gave her the two items.”

Wurramara went on to say that after a brief exchange with the staff member, who’s alleged to have told the artist she “just wanted to take the load off”, Wurramara and her sister left the store. “I looked back and the women seemed satisfied I was leaving,” she continued, “like a sense of relief had washed over. I walked out in tears.”

“I woke up this morning because this still happens?” Wurramara wrote, calling out companies that “are willing to put blak faces in their campaign and use our bodies to promote their products but do not uphold that level of respect and honouring amongst who they employ”.

“This is unacceptable,” she wrote, “and I’m sick of ‘dealing with it’. I’m not dumb I’m not stupid, I know when I’m being stereotyped and subjected to racism because I have lived it, seen it, traumatised and hurt because of it.”

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Sportsgirl responded to Wurramara through a comment on her post. “We are deeply sorry or how the experience made Emily feel, as this is not what the brand stands for,” the comment read. “We have reached out to Emily in the hope that we may address this personally and take the appropriate action.

“We take this feedback very seriously and as a brand we remain committed to the ongoing education of our teams to ensure everyone feels welcome in our stores.”

In a statement to NME, Wurramara’s manager, Vyvienne Abla, said: “It wasn’t the fact that it happened to Emily, the problem is that it happened at all. Racial profiling unfortunately is too common, and for this to come from a brand that speaks to youth was really disappointing.

“Sportsgirl’s response to Emily’s post felt like a ‘copy and paste’ reply, taking no accountability or acknowledgment for their actions, nor showing any empathy to how this has made her feel. The level of disregard and disrespect is unfortunate.

We really hope they take a good look at their staff and action an internal investigation. Maybe if they employed more people of colour and found better ways of eradicating racism from within, their customers would have a better experience engaging with their brand.”

Elsewhere, Wurramara was recently announced to be joining Icehouse on their 2022 national tour. She’ll perform with the band on four of their shows to celebrate the 40th anniversary of ‘Great Southern Land’, taking to stages in Perth, Toowoomba, Jacob’s Well and Darwin.

Wurramara is currently gearing up to release her second full-length effort, which is expected to land sometime in 2022. It’ll mark the follow-up to her 2018 debut ‘Milyakburra’, with the first single from the as-yet-untitled album, ‘Cruisin’’, being released last December.

The singer-songwriter will also appear on a forthcoming compilation album by The Wiggles, ‘ReWiggled’, to cover ‘Dressing Up’.

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