Mom sues Walmart for 'segregating' African-American beauty products, alleges racial discrimination

Cindy Arboleda

A Southern California mom was shopping for beauty products at her local Walmart when she noticed that the beauty products targeted at African-Americans were locked behind a glass case, separated from other products.

She is now suing the giant retailer for segregating the products and alleges racial discrimination.

“When I walked down the aisle and saw that Walmart had placed all of the African-American hair and skin products under lock and key, I had to pause,” Essie Grundy said at a press conference on Friday. “I felt that I was being treated as a person who might be a thief, even though I have no criminal history.”

According to ABC7, Grundy, who is represented by women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred, said that Walmart employees made her feel like a criminal for simply wanting to buy beauty supplies. According to Grundy, the employees said she needed to be escorted to the register if she wanted to buy anything and wouldn’t let her touch the products prior to purchasing.

“It perpetuates a racial stereotype that African-Americans are thieves,” said Allred.

The mother of five said she was buying a comb that cost 48 cents and didn’t understand why that item was locked away while other products that were more expensive and marketed to other ethnic groups were not.

Although the products Grundy was shopping for were not specified, videos and images circulating on social media show that it is not uncommon for Walmart locations to maintain this type of separation between products targeted toward African-Americans and products marketed toward other ethnicities.

Twitter user @Kadia2_ snapped a photo of her local Walmart with the caption, “If Walmart is gonna lock up hair products they need to do it for all of them not only the ethnic hair products.”

Another Twitter user, Detrick Manning, posted a video of the beauty section at his local Walmart, which also keeps only certain products behind a locked case. He wrote, “@Walmart Do you want to explain why one of your stores has locks on ONLY the black hair care products? In case you weren’t aware, this is racist and wrong.”

Walmart said in a press release that it doesn’t tolerate discrimination. “While we’ve yet to review a complaint, we take this situation seriously and look forward to addressing it with the court,” the statement read.

“I never want my children, or anyone else’s children, to experience what I did at Walmart that day,” said Grundy.

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