A racist comment at a Fabricland in Vaughan, Ontario, left a woman shaking with anger and speaking out against anti-Asian hate.
Daphne Choi says she was at the cash at the Fabricland on Feb. 2 when an employee said something to the effect of “The Chinese are trying to kill us.”
Choi tells blogTO the older woman couldn’t see her when she made the remark, and when she looked at another staff member who was at the cash, that woman told the older woman she shouldn’t say stuff like that.
“I stood where I was at the wall for a while saying, like, what? What is like, you can’t say that, like, That’s ridiculous,” Choi says.
The older woman indicated that everyone should just laugh about the situation and Choi said, “Let’s not laugh about this because this isn’t funny.”
The older woman left and when Choi asked to speak to the manager and get an apology, nothing was done. The woman at the cash indicated that the woman had made racist remarks many times.
Later, Choi learned that the older woman might have been the assistant manager at the store, which may be why no manager came to apologise.
Choi says she was so upset about the incident that she documented her experience as soon she got back to her car. The post on Instagram has gotten around 10,000 views and many comments of support.
Choi says this isn’t the first time she has heard a racist remark, and that often they happen so quickly she nearly misses them. This time it hit harder because of the anti-Asian hate surrounding the pandemic.
“It’s not the first time, but it’s the time I was probably the angriest about it,” she says.
Choi says she regularly goes to the Vaughan Fabricland as it is closest to her Richmond Hill home. She started a sewing and greeting card business as a creative outlet during lockdowns.
“And I think that’s also why the whole concept of going into a store and facing this kind of environment was even more upsetting, because this feeds my creative side, which has been pivotal in keeping my mental health at a good level during the pandemic.”
She called Fabricland and has since heard that they are investigating the incident.
Fabricland Ontario posted about the situation on Instagram.
“We started an investigation immediately and have already taken action to ensure that something like this never happens again,” the store wrote in the statement.
A spokesperson from Fabricland tells blogTO they have confirmed that racist comments were uttered.
“They were completely unacceptable,” he said. “We as a company strongly condemn any and all racism and discrimination.”
The company expects the investigation will be coming to a close on Monday. The spokesperson added that they appreciated hearing from Choi, noting “it is a serious matter and it is completely unacceptable behavior that we don’t tolerate at Fabricland.”
The statement says the store understands the importance of “cultural sensitivity,” but Choi argues this isn’t about sensitivity.
“It’s not that I’m being sensitive because I’m Chinese. It’s the statement is racist.”
She also notes the statement has no mention of anti-Asian racism and that the company turned off commenting on its Instagram post.
In the end, Choi says she would like a verbal and written apology from the woman with an indication that she understands the gravity of her comments — “not just that she’s sorry that I’m offended, or that I heard what she was saying.”
She would also like to see some kind of financial donation to a not-for-profit Chinese organization or support for another racialized group.
While Choi says she never intended for the video to get this much attention, she is glad she spoke out.
“It’s been very validating to have so much feedback,” she says. “That confirms that a lot of people have the same sentiments as me, and I’ve received a lot of comments of people saying that they’ve experienced things and didn’t have either enough time in that moment or didn’t feel comfortable saying something out loud.”
“A lot of people have expressed that seeing that somebody speak out about it has been encouraging to them to speak out the next time something should happen to them.”