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Videos of young black man ‘calling out institutional racism’ of American convenience stores take social media by storm

Clips purport to show cashiers following him around ‘thinking he's shoplifting’

This series of videos posted online purport to show racial stereotyping in convenience stores across America – and in doing so have taken social media by storm.

Posted by Vine user Rashid Polo, they feature a young black high school student filming himself on trips to the shops.

At first this seems entirely mundane – until it becomes apparent that the focus of the clip is in fact the member of staff behind Rashid, shuffling displays and generally trying to look casual.

Rashid takes a moment when he is on his own in one video to explain that he is being followed because the clerk thinks he is shoplifting – only for the worker to walk round the corner and, to her surprise, straight into shot.

It is impossible to say whether or not the videos really do show store workers keeping an eye on Rashid simply because he is black. But the videos have inspired a heated debate among commenters online, with the behaviour shown either “institutional racism at its finest” or because “a large percentage of teenagers steal”.

Some believe the timing of the cashier’s appearance in one video is too good to be true and “probably scripted”, but for the majority there is agreement that her reaction is simply very funny indeed.

Since his six-second “#SheThinkImStealing” videos have been viewed more than 15 million times between them, Rashid has received plenty of fans online.

And we can likely expect to see plenty more of the young man, who tweeted on Friday: “Rashid Polo isn't just a name.... It's a persona... A way of life... One day I will take over.”