The father who posted an open letter to Australian department store Myer calling them out on an instance of "racial profiling" has spent a sleepless night after his story made headlines across Australia.

Shem Garlett posted his letter to management at the Myer store in Forrest Chase, Perth, on Facebook after his teenage son had security called on him while trying on a shirt in the men's department change rooms earlier this month.

He says his son Jaylen, who was shopping for an outfit for his school formal, was doing nothing wrong, and the only reason 10 staff descended on the boy was because he is indigenous.

Once the story was picked up by media, Mr Garlett said he expected his Facebook post would attract some negative comments.

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"I kind of expected it (once it went viral) that not all comments would be positive ... but some people have a different opinion and want to have a genuine discussion and that is fine ... but then there are others that just want to troll. There's a difference between the two — I'm happy to allow some conversation but it's not really the platform to have a serious discussion considering you don't get to see the whites of their eyes. You just get the keyboard strokes and the characters on your screen. Things can be misconstrued and you don't really get to have any resolution."

While he has been heartened by the flood of messages of support he has received, he has deleted some of the more brutal racist comments from his post.

"When they talk death and killing I try and get rid of some of those ones — but if they want to have a genuine conversation I like to keep it up there," he says.

One commenter wrote "Stop playing the victim card and MAKING something racial that isn't. Racism will never end because SOME (NOT ALL) will continue to play the racial card over any small insignificant thing like this that is not racist but will try hard to make it look racist. My best friend is Greek, my longest term friend is Serbian and my best friend at Cricket is Indian but I suppose I'm racist now?"

While he has been heartened by the flood of messages of support he has received, he has deleted some of the more brutal racist comments from his post.

"When they talk death and killing I try and get rid of some of those ones — but if they want to have a genuine conversation I like to keep it up there," he says.

One commenter wrote "Stop playing the victim card and MAKING something racial that isn't. Racism will never end because SOME (NOT ALL) will continue to play the racial card over any small insignificant thing like this that is not racist but will try hard to make it look racist. My best friend is Greek, my longest term friend is Serbian and my best friend at Cricket is Indian but I suppose I'm racist now?"

To which Garlett calmly responded "Interesting how you believe befriending one person makes you cool with a whole race?"

Despite the overnight attention resulting in a sleepless night, he has not regrets about sharing the post.

"I wanted to take the emotion out of it and just give an account of what happened," he says.

"I posted it with the view that this is not an isolated incident and that other people would associate their experiences with it."

Shem Garlett posted his letter to management at the Myer store about his son Jaylen. Photo / via Facebook
Shem Garlett posted his letter to management at the Myer store about his son Jaylen. Photo / via Facebook

Indeed, the post — which now has more than 4000 reactions and has been shared over 1000 times — became a forum for people to share their own stories involving racial profiling.

One woman told how her husband is repeatedly asked to pay for his petrol before using the pump at their local petrol station in Perth.

She says there is no other reason for this other than the fact he has dark skin.
"Nobody else is asked to pay first. When I've asked them why they target my husband, they won't give me an answer," she says.

Mr Garlett says he sat down with his son to discuss the media response and how he was coping with the attention.

"He's been fine ... I asked him whether he was OK with it when I posted the letter and he was cool and understood," he says.

"Last night we sat down and talked about it, about why there's such interest in our story and why it's important that we allow this process to happen. He knows it's important to allow his friends to have a voice".

He explains that Jaylen has experienced this sort of racial profiling throughout his life, and outlines another incident at David Jones in his Facebook post.

"These things happen once or twice a year," explains Mr Garlett.

"We don't usually respond beyond a shake of the head or a few angry words and move on."

He describes another time Jaylen left the change room to look at the clothing he was trying on in a different mirror within the store, and before he knew it, he was surrounded by security.

"Sometimes you have to deal with these things with a bit of humour," he says.

"Sometimes when you're out shopping you joke 'get your hands out of your pockets' sometimes that's the best way to handle what is actually a really sad situation.

"If it wasn't so outwardly racist it would almost be funny."

Having said that, he fails to see the humour when he recalls the first time Jaylen experienced racial profiling when he was in primary school.

The little boy had been taken to the shops to buy a suit for his uncle's funeral.

"When we went to buy the suit, we were given such bad customer service ... they had such a horrible attitude to us as soon as we walked in," he recalls.

He has no doubt it was because of the colour of their skin.

"He was so young, and it was a very sensitive time, being a funeral."

In a statement to news.com.au about the Perth incident, Myer said: "Myer has looked into this matter, which came about due to a misunderstanding between team members when the customer entered the change rooms without any clothing items. There were no other factors involved.

"We have met with the family and apologised."