Food shopping while Black: Kroger manager profiles Black teens

A Black woman in Texas is calling out a manager at a Kroger supermarket for racially profiling her sons and nephews, then calling the cops on them after determining “they looked like they could be shoplifters.”


In another case of Black people can’t live or breathe in peace, Ukiah Swain, reports the disturbing story involving four young men in her family — ages 15, 16, 19 and 20. She says while shopping for snacks at store in Mesquite on Thursday night, they were accused of stealing, The Huffington Post reports.

Swain told the site, that the white assistant manager waited for them to pay for their items before he called the police.

READ MORE: Black teen racially profiled during class assignment on, well, racism

“He didn’t say anything to them,” she noted “Someone else told them that he was going to go call the police.”

According to Swain, the young men then whipped out their receipts to prove that they had indeed purchased the snacks. Still, the manager still insisted that the officers, once they arrived, issue trespassing warnings to the young men.

The manager was not the only one able to call for back up. The young men called Swain after law enforcement was contacted. She arrived on the scene and started a Facebook Live, where she recorded the whole ordeal. One the video, she is seen confronting the manager about his alleged bias.

“He (the manager) said they looked like they could be shoplifters,” she said.

Zavarion Swain, 16, Swain’s son, confirmed his belief that the manager racially profiled him.

“I looked at the manager and I asked him what we did and he was like, ‘We’ve had problems with people like you before,’” Zavarion Swain told NBC Dallas–Forth Worth.

According to the outlet, the manager has been removed from Kroger, pending an investigation and Kroger reached out to Swain to apologize.

“We strive to provide a welcoming environment and to show respect for all customers. We did not live up to our values in this situation,” the statement from Kroger’s Dallas division read.

“We recognize these steps alone won’t change the broader systemic and cultural biases that plague our society, but we believe that together they demonstrate the seriousness with which we take these issues and our desire to be a part of the solution.”

Swain’s attorney, Daryl Washington, said that particular Kroger store location has a history of racially profiling customers.

“It’s just the culture of that store,” Washington told HuffPost.

“They were treated like criminals, and that’s going to stay with them for the rest of their lives,” he said of the four young men. “You can’t just issue a broad apology and just go about business as usual, especially from the amount of money that Kroger is making from the minority community.”

Swain said although Kroger representatives called and apologized, no one has called to apologize to her sons and nephews who she said were traumatized by the experience.

“As a mother, from what I see, they’re still hurt, they’re upset, they’re frustrated. My 19-year-old has not left the house at all. He hasn’t even stepped outside for a breath of fresh air,” she said. “That’s totally unlike him.”

Swain said the apology should have the same energy as the accusation.

Kroger should apologize “The same way that they humiliated them — in person.”

READ MORE: White man who who killed two Black people at Kroger attempted to enter Black church first