Racism at La Crosse’s Valley View Mall: Store owner speaks out, helps others

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Micquel Jackson opened The Guy Girl Code Inc. in Valley View Mall in July of 2021. The store is a labor of love for Jackson, who has faced mental illness and addiction for a majority of his life.

Clothes are not the only thing in the store. Also on the floor are QR codes leading to resources for those struggling with the same issues Jackson faced.

“Let’s make sure you’re okay first, let’s make sure you alright first,” Jackson said of customers who come to his store. “And then let’s get you dressed.”

But Jackson’s efforts to help others has been overshadowed by the racist abuse he’s faced.

“I hear it’s too black, it’s too rap, it won’t last,” he said. “What is it? what is it doing here?”

On Dec. 11, the abuse escalated. Jackson says a white male verbally abused him, calling him the N-word, pulling tags from his clothes, and threatening to shoot him with “rubber bullets.”

“And that right there, it just broke me,” Jackson said.

With the help of Hope Restores, Jackson filled out a police report.

“This is an everyday occurrence for people of difference and people of color,” said Bobbi Rathert, a Hope Restores advocate.

Rathert says trauma prevents African Americans from reporting abuse.

She said it takes longer for people of color to report abuse or consider it seriously, whereas it “might’ve taken us six seconds or six minutes.”

Jackson says he hopes to move forward and continue to help those who need it.

“I wanna get you dressed and make sure you ain’t dealing with no stress,” Jackson said.

Jackson resorted to putting up a sign refusing service to those who are racist. He says he’s embarrassed that he is one of the only shops that is forced to do so. Hope Restore says people can be an ally and prevent similar abuse Jackson has faced by saying something if they see something.

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