An outraged customer has taken to Instagram to demand an apology from Fabricland, Canada’s largest fabric store, after allegedly hearing one of its employees make an anti-Asian remark.
Daphne Choi, who runs a sewing and greeting card business, said the incident occurred at Fabricland’s outlet in Vaughan, Ontario, on Feb. 2. She recalled being near the cash register when she overheard a white employee say: “The Chinese are trying to kill us all.”
Choi, who is Chinese, said she turned around and made a face, which prompted a South Asian cashier to intervene. But to her surprise, the employee allegedly replied: “Come on, let’s laugh about this.”
“Let’s not,” Choi replied out loud. “That isn’t funny, and you shouldn’t be saying this.”
Choi learned that the employee in question turned out to be an assistant manager. She identified her as “Cindy.”
After the encounter, Cindy allegedly disappeared to the back of the store. Choi demanded to speak to a manager, but no one appeared.
“People continued to be cashed out while I yelled in the store for about five minutes,” Choi recalled. “I expressed how angry I was, how inappropriate the situation was, and demanded an apology, or else I would contact the head office.”
Choi said she received no such apology. She was eventually forced to contact Fabricland’s head office, which is now investigating the incident.
In an Instagram post, Choi went on to explain why the incident was offensive to her and why others should also be offended. She pointed out that tolerating such actions only normalizes racism.
She also stressed that saying dumb things out loud at work is “plain stupid.” An assistant manager, as an example to their employees, cannot just “ignore your company’s code of conduct without consequence.”
Choi told blogTO that it was not the first racist incident she has experienced. However, it was especially potent as anti-Asian hate crimes continue to rise in North America.
“It’s not the first time, but it’s the time I was probably the angriest about it,” Choi told the outlet. She demanded a written and verbal apology from Cindy, as well as some form of donation to a Chinese nonprofit or to another group dedicated to addressing minority needs.
Fabricland Ontario released a statement in response to the incident, saying they are now in direct communication with Choi.
“We understand the importance of cultural sensitivity and have a strong tradition of diversity, inclusion, respect and tolerance. We will focus to ensure we maintain those values and continue to build and improve on this foundation,” the company said. “Fabricland has zero tolerance for racism and discrimination.”
In a follow-up statement, the company offered its apology:
“Fabricland deeply apologizes for the fact that one of our employees made remarks that were clearly racist, and more specifically anti-Asian. Fabricland condemns anti-Asian racism and all racism and we have been very consistent in standing against racism, bigotry and intolerance.”