Black beauty products kept in locked cases at Walmart draw claims of discrimination

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By Janelle Griffith, NBC News

“I felt as if the second I stepped into that aisle, that it had already been determined I’m a potential thief,” Jasmine Saunders said of a California Walmart.

A woman in California said she was infuriated and saddened to find black beauty and hair products locked in a glass case at a pair of local Walmart stores.

Jasmine Saunders, 42, said she felt singled out Sunday at a Walmart in Riverside, California, as she and other black women waited for a store employee to unlock beauty supplies marketed to black men and women.

“One poor girl was trying to look up products on her phone because you can’t even pick the products up to read directions, ingredients, et cetera,” Saunders told NBC News. “I could not believe the emotional response it elicited, I felt as if the second I stepped into that aisle, that it had already been determined I’m a potential thief, as well as anyone else who looks like me.”

After making their selections, Saunders said the Walmart employee then walked the items to the front of the store to be held until they were purchased.

Saunders said that she followed the sales associate to the register, but left before buying anything because she just wanted to get out of the store.

“It was embarrassing to feel a part of a group being singled out,” she said. “I left my cart just sitting in an aisle.”

Walmart said it does not tolerate discrimination of any kind in its stores and that certain items are kept locked up for security reasons because they are more likely to be stolen.

“We serve more than 160 million customers weekly, crossing all demographics, and are focused on meeting their needs while providing the best shopping experience at each store,” LeMia Jenkins, a Walmart spokeswoman said. “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.”

READ MORE: Source NBC Black

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