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Abercrombie Sued for Discrimination. FUBU Going Strong.

(note: I'm going to assume that all of us here have a sense of humor and have some idea of the tongue-in-cheek nature of the 'Hot Abercrombie Chick' name - right? Good.)

Some people sued Abercrombie and Fitch last June on charges that the company "hires a disproportionately white sales force, puts minorities in less-visible jobs and cultivates a virtually all-white image in its catalogues and elsewhere." Recently, Abercrombie settled the lawsuit for $40 million and agreed to put some diversity into its marketing materials. Now, what I really want to know is this: if this is such a problem from Abercrombie, what about FUBU?

Let's not even go into the question of whether or not the government ought to be regulating corporate hiring practices. I don't think they should, no matter who a company does or doesn't hire and however silly the reasons. I think the government ought to be concerned with protecting negative rights (my right to not be killed, stolen from, etc.). But the fact of the matter is that the government is involved in telling companies the reasons they can hire or refuse to hire people. One of the (admittedly, not very good) 'reasons' not to hire someone that we have decided to prohibit is their race.

So Abercrombie markets an all or mostly white image, and hiring mostly white models and salespeople is the sensible thing to do (not that this makes it right) in line with that marketing strategy. Many people don't think that's okay - but not only is it not okay, but it is the sort of practice that the government can justifiably interfere with. It's illegal. I can't say exactly how the court case would have come out since this particular lawsuit was settled, but I'm inclined to think that Abercrombie would have lost (assuming they didn't find some technicality to win on).

So really, what about FUBU? I don't hear people complaining that the FUBU corporations has racist hiring practices, or that they employ only (or mostly) black models and market an "all-black" image. But in fact, FUBU is even more straightforward about this than Abercrombie. I remember seeing the founders of the company on Oprah some years back. They explained that FUBU stands for "For us, by us." As far as I know, the company has never tried to change that meaning of FUBU.

So what's the difference here? Other than different groups being discriminated against by each company, I don't see any. So please, someone, tell me - why is FUBU (so far, at least) in the clear while Abercrombie has to drop $40 million on the issue? Is it okay for a company to discriminate, even to be straightforwardly all-black or all-(insert minority group here), just because minorities are the ones doing the discrimination? I don't see how such a position would be justified. If one form of discrimination is not permissible, neither is the other.

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