Once upon a time, SZA—née Solána Rowe—tended bar and worked at a Sephora. In 2013, though, having come to the attention of the higher-ups at Top Dawg Entertainment, she signed with TDE and released a mixtape, an album, and a song with Rihanna. And then she returned to Sephora.
At the end of April, SZA alleged that she had been racially profiled while shopping at a Calabasas branch of the beauty retailer: “Lmao Sandy Sephora location 614 Calabasas called security to make sure I wasn’t stealing . We had a long talk. U have a blessed day Sandy,” she wrote in a tweet. The gall, to call security on a former peer in beauty retail, let alone to call security on a current music superstar. “Can a bitch cop her fenty in peace er whut.” (Never fear: A month later, Rihanna swooped in with a Fenty gift card to permit her pal to do just that.) (But also why was SZA, one-time Fenty Beauty campaign star, shopping for Fenty Beauty like any other non-Fenty-Beauty-model shopper?) Sephora responded, via tweet, that it was “actively working with our teams to address the situation immediately.”
So here it is: This Wednesday, all Sephora’s U.S. stores will close for diversity training—“inclusivity workshops,” as a spokesperson told Reuters. She went on to explain that the closures are not “a response to any one event”; they’ve been in planning for months and are part of a wider initiative, not specifically a reaction to SZA’s tweet.
But that underscores a larger issue: The SZA incident did not occur in isolation. It gained traction online in part because of her existing social following, but it was not the first time Sephora employees have been accused of racial profiling, as Jezebel pointed out. In late 2017, a video depicting several black shoppers confronting a white employee who they said followed them around the store and pointed them out to a security guard went viral.
In any case, when called upon to do so, Sephora can take decisive action.