Traveling nurse treating herself at Victoria’s Secret is asked to leave

Kimberly Houzah with friend Ravin Nettles
Kimberly Houzah with friend Ravin Nettles

She thought about cutting up her Victoria’s Secret credit card Wednesday and never shopping with the company again, but what she really wanted was an apology.

On Thursday, Kimberly “Nikki” Houzah got an apology from the company.

Houzah was shopping at Victoria’s Secret at Quintard Mall in Oxford, Alabama, on Wednesday when she said another shopper was approached by store employees after allegedly trying to take items from the store without paying for them.

Houzah did not know the person, but she and another black woman were asked to leave the store. She recorded the incident on Facebook Live as management and security repeatedly ask her to leave.

Houzah told the Sun Herald she was shocked because she did not know the woman who was stopped, and the only people asked to leave the store by an associate were the black women. Other customers, who Houzah said were white, were allowed to continue shopping.

“I had given her no reason to think I was doing anything wrong,” Houzah said. “I was completely baffled at the entire thing.”

Houzah, a traveling nurse from Mississippi who lives in Ridgeland, had just finished an assignment in Texas before Thanksgiving and was spending time in Anniston, Alabama, with her mother. She leaves for her next assignment in California next week.

You don’t always have to act a fool to get results. Just be peaceful.

Kimberly Houzah

The 11-minute video has been shared by Facebook friends of Houzah and by several media outlets. Her ordeal has been seen millions of times in less than 24 hours. In the second half of the video, Houzah breaks into tears as she contemplates cutting up her card. She said employees never even asked to check her bags but just immediately ordered her and the other black shopper out of the store.

On Thursday, media outlets reported Houzah went back to the store with a crowd of supporters, and a store employee apologized to her, although it wasn’t the woman in the video who had forced her to leave.

By Thursday night, the company posted an apology to Houzah on Facebook, saying the company does not support discrimination of any kind.

Houzah, who was shopping for boyfriend-cut pants that were on sale, said Wednesday was very upsetting and emotional.

“It’s over now. I just wanted to keep everything peaceful and bring light to the situation,” she said. “When it’s you, it just brings a different kind of awareness to it.”

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Houzah describes herself as a regular customer at Victoria’s Secret. She loves shopping its semi-annual sales and had recently bought several pairs of underwear. She had just taken the tags off to wash them Tuesday. She went back the next day to buy pants because she wanted to treat herself before she left town for work.

On Thursday, a Victoria’s Secret representative called Houzah to apologize and to tell her the associate involved in the incident has been fired.

“I’m glad that some kind of consequences were made,” Houzah said. “If nobody is ever reprimanded for that kind of stuff, it keeps happening. The next person that happens to may not be as humble as me.”

Houzah said she appreciated the call from the store and said it showed they don’t support discriminatory actions.

She said she tried to be as polite as possible on the video to get her point across in a respectful manner.

“You don’t always have to act a fool to get results,” she said. “Just be peaceful. You don’t have to be the loudest. You don’t have to be the biggest and the baddest to get your point across.

Al.com reported Oxford police did not make any shoplifting arrests at Victoria’s Secret on Wednesday.

Justin Mitchell: 228-604-0705, @Journalism_J