Three people are standing outside a Bloomington Walmart changing room. Two are Walmart employees -- one older and white-haired, the other younger. The third is a woman in a headscarf.
What becomes clear immediately is that the older employee is really peeved about letting the woman in the headscarf into the changing room. She stops her co-worker from stepping inside, ostensibly to straighten it up for the customer.
“If she wants to go in, she can go into a dirty one,” she says.
The woman in the headscarf ducks her head and vanishes into the changing room, pulling the door shut behind her. The employee steps to the side to talk to her co-worker at a volume that could not be called confidential.
“This is what I’m talking about,” she says, pointing to the closed changing door. “They think they own us. And I’m sick of this shit.”
She takes a few steps back and stoops, craning her neck to see under the changing room door and asking something about whether the customer had to “take everything off” in order to change. Then she leans against a rack of clothes, her eyes trained on the door.
“They think they own the world,” she says.
For the next few seconds, she just waits, watching the changing room door and snapping at the woman behind it -- presumably responding to words too quiet to hear. “You don’t tell me what to do, I’m old enough to be your grandmother, I can talk if I want to.”
There the video ends.
The person who posted this video on Facebook -- Mika Ford -- didn’t respond to interview requests, but her post provided a little more information. It’s actually an old video, recorded back in 2015. Ford says the customer in the head scarf had been trying to use the changing room, and the Walmart employee didn’t want to let her, supposedly because she was worried the customer could hide merchandise under her robes. She’d had to stop filming because her young daughter started walking away.
So why wait until now to post a video of bad behavior from 2015? Ford explains she’d lost the phone she’d used to record, and only just restored the data, leaving the internet to dissect the incident three years after it happened. The day after it was posted, it had accrued 114,000 views and nearly 700 comments.
What makes this video unique from countless other acts of intolerance caught on camera is the delay. Three years is enough time to make it almost impossible to redress a wrong, but not long enough to cease to be angry about it.
Plenty of those comments were people agreeing with one another about how racist the employee was being, but a decent faction were asking the poster why she hadn’t walked right up and intervened. A few asked why she bothered posting it at all. Another few were speculating where the employee was now -- fired? Transferred? Dead?
The managers at the Bloomington Walmart said they were unable to comment on the video, but a spokesperson for Walmart sent a statement saying the “associate” in the video is “no longer with the company.”
“We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind and what was shown is unacceptable,” it says. It doesn’t mention whether she was fired or merely left.
All the video leaves viewers with is the knowledge that in 2015, this happened to a human being who wanted to try on some clothes in a Walmart. There is no indication whether justice was done, whether this has happened again since, whether anyone actually did intervene.
All we know is it happened. We weren’t there, but now we’ve all seen.