Employees at the Old Navy in Philadelphia’s Center City say that black and brown workers were pushed out of sight and replaced by an all-white crew for a Queer Eye filming.
Allegations surfaced last week when Monae Alvarado, who works at the store on 1618 Chestnut Street, wrote on Facebook that she and her co-workers were pushed aside so that workers from other stores and regions could be filmed in their store.
“So they were filming Queer eye (not queer as folk) at my job (Old Navy in Center City Philadelphia) and at my job is nothing but people of color. Most of us did an overnight to help make the store look beautiful. Today they brought all these workers from other store around the region (West Chester, Mount Pocono, and Deptford NJ) and they were all white. They had us standing in the back not to be seen while the other workers from another store get to work on our floor like it’s their store. The shade I tell you.”
She later explained more about the incident with Philadelphia Magazine. In this convo, she states that it was the Old Navy managers who made this decision. Alvarado and her fellow employees share that they had been preparing for the filming for a week.
“Most of us worked additional overnights to make the store look top-notch,” said another Old Navy employee of color, who asked not to be named. “Corporate brought in new clothes, signs, and repainted parts of the store. We had to hide all tags under clothes and fold everything a certain way to make the place look spotless.
“I felt the racism the moment I was being told by managers to go to sections of the store that I usually don’t work around,” a third employee of color said. “It became clear that we weren’t going to be filmed because we hadn’t been asked to sign consent forms, and they made it a point to keep us as far away from the cameras as possible. Most of the staff and managers at our store location are black.”
After Alvarado’s Facebook post started to go viral, many Philadelphia residents, LGBTQ people, people of color, and Queer Eye fans asked both the Netflix show and Old Navy to explain the situation.
#OldNavy forced POC workers from the floor and kept them out of sight for a #QueerEye taping. They spent all night preparing the store, only to be told to sit in the back during filming the next day. @QueerEye @OldNavy @netflix #racism #Discrimination #Hollywood #Netflix pic.twitter.com/xGcEBnJLF4
— Bobby Worst (@YouAintFunnyBxh) August 26, 2019
What's most shocking to me about #OldNavy bringing in white people to replace its Black employees for #QueerEye is that they either thought no one would say anything or that they wouldn't face consequences. Fans need to make SURE there are consequences.
— Cheyenne Simone (@Chweyoun6) August 26, 2019
It appears that Netflix and Queer Eye staff had no part in this decision by Old Navy. Cast member Tan France said as much in a response to Alvarado’s initial Facebook post.
“I don’t know what happened behind the scenes, or overnight, but what I can tell you is that there [is] no way I would ever have allowed production to move POC [people of color] to the back,” France wrote. “I should also mention that I had one person join me on camera, from Old Navy. She was African American. This is the last I will say on this matter.”
Then a spokesperson for Old Navy later released the following statement to address the issue.
“At Old Navy, we celebrate the diversity of our teams and our customers and foster an environment of inclusion and belonging. We were proud to work with The Queer Eye show to film at our store in Philadelphia and to feature our local store manager on camera. We also worked with additional employees in the area to help ensure the store ran seamlessly for customers, as the location was open for business during filming, and we expect they may appear in background shots. These individuals are reflective of our diverse employee population. We would never select employees to participate – or not – based on race. That is completely inaccurate and against the values we stand for as a company.”
But despite that statement, employees at the store still feel disgruntled.
“Having one black person featured on the show when most of us already work there full time is a slap in the face,” reasoned one of the employees. “They would all be better off saying they didn’t want a bunch of black people on their show because they thought it would be ghetto. I’ve seen Queer Eye — they don’t have too many of us on there like that.”
Source: Philly Mag