Dozens of Hate-Fueled Attacks Against People of Color Reported at Walmart Stores Nationwide

By catherine lizette gonzalez Mar 27, 2018

A new report details hateful incidents targeting people of color at Walmart stores across the United States.

In a new article published yesterday (March 26), Univision uncovers hate-fueled attacks in Walmart’s stores and parking lots. According to the report, more than 35 incidents of racist attacks at the major retailer have been logged via the Documenting Hate Project, a ProPublica-led database that tracks hate crimes and bias incidents since Donald Trump became president. 

The article begins with Maria Meneses, a 20-year-old Latina who was loading groceries into her vehicle in a Walmart parking lot in Bryant, Arkansas, when a man began yelling racist epithets at her family. She posted a video of the incident on Facebook, which shows a White man in his car telling her to "Go home" and "Get the fuck out of here."

Meneses was one of dozens of people who reported similar incidents at stores across several states, including New Mexico, Texas and Missouri. In another case, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab was waiting in a checkout line when a customer said, "She must be slow in the head because she is Muslim."

The attacks are part of a larger trend that has emerged in the months since the height of the presidential election season. The FBI’s hate crime report for 2016 revealed a rise in hate crimes against Black, Latinx and Muslim people. And according to Univision, 15 more of these hate attacks were reported at other major retailers, including Costco, Target and Sam’s Club. Overall, Documenting Hate has logged more than 4,000 incidences of hate crimes and bias.

According to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Walmart is the nation’s largest private employer of Black and Latinx workers. In a retail industry that privileges customer satisfaction above all else, several concerns have been raised about safety and protocol for employees of color when they encounter hate and discrimination from customers.

From the article:

…in such a "customer first" environment, a number of Walmart employees told Univision they were unsure how to respond when customers exhibited hateful behavior—and especially when it was directed at them. In at least three instances, employees told Univision they felt they were not adequately supported by their employer when a customer targeted them.

In New Mexico, one Latinx Walmart associate recalled an occurence in which she was checking receipts at the door, and a customer fumed at her,  “I have money. I have a job. Do you even have a visa?" 

The woman, who requested to use only her first name, Cristina, said that her manager stepped in and asked the customer to leave, but did not offer her any support. "Nobody was standing up for me, they just stared at me. I felt really hurt," she told Univision. "And my manager never talked to me about it after that, he just ignored it. He didn’t stop to ask me, ‘Are you okay? Do you want to take a break?’"

The company reportedly declined to provide a comment for the story and chose not to answer questions about whether its employee training includes how to respond to instances of hate, discrimination and harassment. A Walmart spokesperson told Univision, "We don’t feel we have anything to add to your story." 

The full article, along with a video of some of the hateful incidents, can be found here. Resources for victims of hate crimes and bias incidents can found at Documenting Hate.