‘That’s Why They Have Babies,’ White Store Worker Says About Black Customer Using WIC

 It looks like Starbucks isn’t the only corporation that needs to teach its employees how NOT to be racist. In a disturbing event a woman at an Albertsons in Gresham Oregon, took to Facebook to share her mother’s story of a racist and classist event that happened. 

Jackie Carroll, a white woman, was standing in line when she noticed there was a problem with the women checking out in front of her. The woman, who was African-American, came up a little short on her bill. Hey, it happens to the best of us, right? It was a fairly small amount, $12, so Carroll offered to pay, because that’s what people do for each other in a kind society.  

Well, the clerk, a white woman named Debbie, was having none of it. Stepping way outside her lane, Debbie refused the $12 because the African-American customer was using WIC, a food stamp program specifically for women with infants and children. According to Carroll:

I said, ‘I will pay,’ and she said, ‘No!’ very abruptly. Literally, she raised her voice and said, ‘No, you don’t need to do that.

 That is when the conversation turned not only classist but racist as well. Carroll went on to say:

I go, ‘Well, I don’t mind; just let her have her stuff. 

Carroll says Debbie doubled down on her racism:

No! You’re not going to do that. She has WIC. She gets her free stuff. That’s why they have babies, so they can keep on getting all of the free stuff.

Unfortunately, before a store manager could be called over, the African-American woman left, humiliated. When Carroll returned home she told her daughter the story who posted it on Facebook.

The full post reads:


Today there was an African American woman at the check out stand. She was using her WIC to purchase the basic necessities (milk, eggs, fruits, etc). Meaning, she was either pregnant, or had children under the age of 5 that she needed to feed. Well, she was over by $12 and some change on fruits and vegetables. My mom offered to pay the difference. The cashier said, “no,” very abruptly, with a rude tone. My mother explained it’s not a big deal, and she would like to do this so the woman can have her fruits. Again, the cashier rudely said no. My mom asked if the unnamed shopper was a regular there and this has been an issue. Debbie, the cashier, said, “No, but she got her free stuff from WIC already, she doesn’t need anybody else paying her way.” My mother explained that’s very judgmental and we all need to show compassion. Debbie snapped back with, “well, that’s what ‘they’ do, they keep on having kids and getting handouts.” With the way she said it, it wasn’t clear whether she was referring to African Americans, people on assistance, or both. This woman left, humiliated, without her fruits and vegetables.

Debbie, the cashier, is a Caucasian female in probably her 60’s. So, I’m not sure which group of people she is referring to when she says “they,” but this was absolutely ridiculous. She may be classist, she may be racist. It’s hard to tell for sure and honestly, she may be both.

My mom and I agree that this is exactly what is wrong with the world. Where is the compassion and basic human decency? Everybody around was in shock when this occurred. My mom paid for her own groceries, and left the store. She called the store when she got home and spoke with the manager Ron. She thought he was nice, but he said he doesn’t have the autonomy to terminate her. I’m not sure how to feel about this specifically because it doesn’t seem like anything is going to be done. Something needs to be done. We can’t continue to let this happen in the US.

Carroll also contacted the store and spoke to the manager insisting that Debbie be reprimanded. Since the post has gone viral Albertsons released this statement:

 At Albertsons, we have a policy and a culture of treating our customers, and each other, with courtesy, dignity and respect. It’s at the core of who we are as a company and member of this community. We sincerely apologize that, in this incident, it appears we did not deliver the customer service that we pride ourselves on. While this isolated situation is still under investigation, we are taking this opportunity to remind all of our employees that each and every customer is a welcomed guest in our stores. 

We’ll wait and see what Albertson’t next move will be. 

H/T: The Root