As a white, middle class mom of two with a certain amount of disposable income, I can safely say that I’m the Mall of America’s target market.
I’m the dork in the glasses, with my goofball daughter by my side
I buy Converse at Foot Locker, jeans and hoodies at Old Navy, and birthday presents at American Girl and the Lego Store. I fork over my Visa card when my kids and their friends want to ride the Pepsi Orange Streak or Jimmy Neutron’s Atomic Collider at Nickelodeon Universe. The multiplex on the fourth floor is where I enjoy Pixar films and endure movies based on comic characters. When Elliott wants a Blizzard but Miriam wants a Philly cheesesteak, I give them the cash they need to navigate the food court, then I order myself lattes at Starbucks as my reward for a job well done.
At least, I USED to do these things. I haven’t set foot in the Mall of America since 25 people were arrested by mall police in the infamous December demonstration by Black Lives Matter Minneapolis. This is the longest stretch without a megamall visit since I became a mother 15 years ago. My boycott was informal, but since the city of Bloomington has decided to file criminal charges against 11 of the protesters, including unprecedented demands for $40,000 in restitution fees, I joined BLMM’s nationwide call to boycott the Mall of America until these ridiculous charges are dropped.
I may pretend that I’m the trendy Shop Local type who wouldn’t dream of stepping foot in a 2.8 million square foot shrine to capitalism, but at my core I’m just another boring mom looking for a reliable way to entertain her kids. The megamall is an affordable getaway for us, a Cinnabon-scented playground for us to while away our minimal cares.
You’re never too old for the Lego Store
And my cares are quite minimal, indeed: If I turn my pale complected son loose there, my greatest fear is that he will blow his entire allowance at the iCandy Sugar Shoppe. I need not fear that he will singled out for harassment by mall security and/or Bloomington Police. Racial profiling at the megamall was an issue long before Michael Brown was shot to death in Ferguson last August; the mall might not have been happy about a demonstration occurring on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year, but it could have welcomed the activists and shown the world that commerce and cooperation need not be mutually exclusive.
Instead, Mall of America leadership overreacted, as did the city of Bloomington, looking like a group of spoiled brats who demanded a Death Star Lego set for Christmas and got stuck with another stupid X-Wing fighter. “But I told you what I wanted from you, Mom!” sobs the frustrated child, who stomps and cries and looks for someone, anyone to blame for this indignity.
I’m not a kid, I’m an adult; I know the letter of the law states that the Mall of America is private property. I also know that the letter of the law states every citizen’s right to equal protection, whether they shop at Nordstrom or not, but all you need is an open heart and an open mind to know that isn’t reality in America today.
If the Mall of America has enough pull with Bloomington to have these charges filed, it can also ensure that they are dropped. Dare I suggest that the mall invite Black Lives Matter activists back for a public forum, perhaps in the Rotunda where the initial protests began?
I would be there, with a Starbucks coffee in my hand, an Old Navy hoodie on my back, and a Visa card burning a hole in my wallet.