Being a Black Security Guard Made Me Terrified to Shop

Suspicion isn’t just a radio code in a department store — it follows you everywhere you go

Tony Jones, M.A.
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Photo: baona/Getty Images

Over a period of five months in 2008, everything changed. I lost my big mama, finished graduate school, got married, and moved to a new city — Pasadena, CA. Despite my broken heart over losing the woman who had raised me, I was excited about my new adventure. I had used up almost every dime that I had to get our apartment in the busiest part of Old Town, and it didn’t take long for my $10,000 in savings to nosedive. I had to figure something out quickly, or this new life that I had created would vaporize instantaneously.

The apartment was two blocks away from Colorado Avenue, the main drag; you could shop, eat fine cuisine, or enjoy the fresh air that Southern California had to offer — which we often did. On one of our walks, my wife discovered Loehmann’s, a department story that’s like a higher-end version of Marshall’s.

Seeing a “now hiring” sign, she immediately told me to apply. Funds were getting pretty low at that point, so like any good husband, I listened and reluctantly applied. It turned out that the position was for a “loss prevention detective.” I had no idea what the hell that meant, but I needed something.

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Tony Jones, M.A.
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Writer for

Tony Jones is a freelance writer that covers race, culture, music, and sports across multiple platforms.