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    Shopping while black

    David Wilson for The Boston Glob

    Jalanae Dale-St. Fort, her best friend, and her mother are at stop No. 2 during the 14-year-old’s birthday bonanza at Legacy Place in Dedham, which she just thinks is “awesome.” They’re here because there’s nothing like this in Bowdoin-Geneva.

    But awesome soon sours when the girls experience an unfortunate rite of passage: shopping while black.

    They are inside Sugar Heaven, and Jalanae and her mother, Theresa, are trying to figure out if the sour cream and onion crickets are real. Theresa notices her daughter’s best friend standing to the side. A Dedham police officer is in front of the girl, whose pockets are turned inside out.


    One of the clerks at Claire’s accused her of stealing, and the officer insists she return to the costume jewelry store despite nothing being in her pockets. Theresa goes, too.

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    Inside the store, the officer gives the teen one more chance to come clean before going to check the security footage.


    “I’m pissed that just happened,” Theresa says outside, trying to calm her nerves. “They are teenagers so I didn’t want to go over there with attitude, but when he said, ‘There were no cameras. We were just trying to smoke her out,’ my mouth almost filled up with blood from biting my tongue so hard.”

    Akilah Johnson can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @akjohnson1922.