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African American Woman Sues Walmart For Locking Beauty Products Behind Glass

Ian Miles Cheong Contributor

Feminist lawyer Gloria Allred is leading a racial discrimination lawsuit against Walmart following a complaint in southern California that the retail giant’s decision to keep African-American beauty products behind lock and key is racist.

KCBS reported on Friday that 43-year-old Essie Grundy filed a racial discrimination claim against the company after she found a 49-cent comb and other beauty products used by African Americans secured behind locked glass. She told the news outlet that it was the first time she’d experienced racism.

“It was such a good product, I wanted to introduce it to my older children,” Grundy said in her interview. “They didn’t have any more at the original Walmart that I got it from, so I went to my neighborhood one, and that’s when I noticed all of the African-American products were locked up under lock and key.”

“We have different textured hair than other people,” she said. “I just feel that we should be treated equally, adding that she doesn’t deserve to be treated differently “just because of a complexion.”

Grundy says she lodged a complaint with a store manager to change the policy, but was denied. Similar such complaints have been made against Walmart by the group Making Change At Walmart, which calls the practice “discriminatory” against African Americans.

Walmart spokesman Charles Crowson has since responded to Grundy’s lawsuit, stating that while the company does not discriminate, it still intends to review her complaint. Crowson said that the company keeps some of its products under tighter security because they are at higher risk of theft.

“We’re sensitive to this situation and also understand, like other retailers, that some products such as electronics, automotive, cosmetics and other personal care products are subject to additional security,” said the spokesman. “Those determinations are made on a store-by-store basis using data supporting the need for heightened measures.”

“While we’ve yet to review a complaint, we take this situation seriously and look forward to addressing it with the court,” he said.

Allred disagrees with Walmart. “That is discrimination in our view,” she said. “That is second- class citizenship. That is being treated with the utmost disrespect. That’s racial profiling of a customer who has no criminal history and it’s all based on a stereotype.”

“If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, OK?” Allred said.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.