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Toronto woman says Walmart employees racially profiled her family, accused teen daughter of stealing

·5 min read
Solange Scott, middle, standing with her 13-year-old daughters Jordynn, left, and Jurnee. Scott is now asking for a public apology from Walmart after she says employees racially profiled her family, and accused her daughter of theft.  (Paul Borkwood/CBC - image credit)
Solange Scott, middle, standing with her 13-year-old daughters Jordynn, left, and Jurnee. Scott is now asking for a public apology from Walmart after she says employees racially profiled her family, and accused her daughter of theft. (Paul Borkwood/CBC - image credit)

A Black woman says she and her daughters were racially profiled after a Walmart employee accused them of stealing an item they were in the process of paying for.

Solange Scott and her daughters were grocery shopping on Thursday at a Walmart in Scarborough, located at 799 Milner Ave near Highway 401 and Morningside Avenue.

Scott says they had been scanning items at the self-checkout when she noticed a store employee staring at her and her 13-year-old daughters.

Scott recalls asking the employee, "Is there something I can help you with?"

"She just got extremely aggressive, opened her arms really wide and did, like, a jump and she screamed and said, 'What? It's my eyes, I can stare wherever I want to,'" Scott told CBC Toronto on Friday.

It's very sad. Now I have to be even extra cautious in stores to make sure that no one is eyeing me to make sure I'm not doing anything bad just because of how I look. - Jordynn Scott, 13

Scott demanded to speak with a duty manager, at which point she says the employee started walking away while looking back and continuing to scream at them. Exactly what she was saying was muffled by her mask, Scott says.

She says that's when a second woman, who also seemed to be an employee of Walmart, came and stood directly behind Scott and her daughters as they were checking out.

As Scott was paying for her items, she says, she heard the employee accuse her daughter Jurnee of failing to scan a box of Rice Krispies.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, yes I did. We paid for everything,'" Scott told CBC Toronto..

Solange Scott holds up their receipt from Walmart with a highlighted line showing  they purchased a box of Rice Krispies. 
Solange Scott holds up their receipt from Walmart with a highlighted line showing they purchased a box of Rice Krispies. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

But the employee wasn't convinced, Scott says, and told her daughter that she had picked up the cereal box, put it down, and didn't scan it.

Scott said she demanded that the employee stop speaking to her daughter and instead bring a duty manager to speak with them. After waiting for 40 minutes, Scott says the duty manager arrived.

Scott says it seemed like he "didn't care" when she explained what happened, but that he said he would speak to his employees about the incident.

She says she pushed back, telling him that she and her daughters "just experienced trauma from this establishment," and that she wanted an apology. But Scott says the duty manager made it clear that there was nothing further he could do.

Scott filmed part of the incident, which she later posted to Twitter, saying she was "broken and angry."

"The fact that you can just assume we didn't pay for the Rice Krispies and we didn't even leave the cash register yet — that says something," Scott said Friday.

Respect a 'core value,' Walmart Canada says

In a statement to CBC Toronto, Walmart Canada says it's aware of the incident and is looking into it further.

"Respect is a core value at Walmart Canada and we do not condone any behaviour which contradicts this value, including racism and discrimination," Felicia Fefer, the manager of corporate affairs for Walmart Canada, said in an email on Friday.

The statement also says Walmart is committed to providing a "safe and inclusive environment" for both associates and customers.

"Celebrating diversity and fostering inclusively is an integral part of the Walmart culture and we are proud to reflect the diverse communities we serve through our associates," Fefer wrote.

Scott says she has been racially profiled at Walmart before

But Scott says this isn't the first time she was racially profiled at that Scarborough Walmart location.

The last time something like this happened, Scott says she was again cashing out at a self-checkout when an employee asked if she was going to pay for everything.

A receipt showing the box of Rice Krispies that the Scott family paid for. 
A receipt showing the box of Rice Krispies that the Scott family paid for. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

But she says this was the worst incident because on this occasion they also accused her children of theft.

"They were watching us from the minute we got [to the checkout]," she said. "There was obviously something about us that you thought we were thieves."

'I was frustrated, I was mad, I was so disappointed'

Scott's daughter Jurnee says the incident was "really traumatic."

"I told my mom that I felt like it's really hard to be Black sometimes, which is something I should never have to say," Jurnee said.

"For you to come up and accuse me of stealing hurts so much. I was frustrated, I was mad, I was so disappointed."

Her sister Jordynn agrees.

"We were very confused. I was upset, embarrassed, sad," she said.

"It's very sad. Now I have to be even extra cautious in stores to make sure that no one is eyeing me to make sure I'm not doing anything bad just because of how I look."

What Scott hopes for now is a public apology — and for the store to retrain its employees on anti-Black racism.

"You can't just look at someone and assume they are going to be doing something nefarious."

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

The Scott family now says they are looking for a public apology.
The Scott family now says they are looking for a public apology. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)