A Lowe’s in Illinois has come under fire after a Chinese woman and Springfield resident claims another customer told her to go back to her country.
Xuna Hu says she was shopping for two fire pits when the other customer tried to get Hu to hand over one of the pits, leading up to the alleged racist encounter at a Lowe’s branch on Wabash Avenue on Jan. 17.
“I was like alright, I’ll just give you one then,” Hu told WICS Channel 20. “She went, ‘This is how it works here.’ So, I was like, ‘OK ma’am, if I give you one it’s because I’m trying to be nice, it’s not how it works here. And then she was like ‘Go back to your country.’ Loud. In the store.”
In a video posted to Facebook, Hu approaches a cash register to demand an apology from the unidentified customer, who replies: “No, I said go back to where that is the way it works.”
A Lowe’s employee tells Hu to stop recording and delete the video, but Hu stands her ground.
“You’re making a much bigger thing with your phone out right now than it needs to be,” the Lowe’s employee tells Hu. “You’re being combative, you’re being hostile. So right now you are the threatening one in this situation.”
A Lowe’s spokesperson said in a statement: “We were appalled to hear about this experience. At Lowe’s, discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. We spoke to Ms. Hu and apologized, letting her know we are taking swift action to address the matter. Our intent is to always ensure customers feel valued, respected and welcome. We are committed to creating a safe and open environment for all customers.”
State Rep. Theresa Mah (D-Chicago) created a Change.org petition to demand the company apologize to Hu and “require racial sensitivity training for [their] employees.”
“I put it together to help Ms. Hu get a wider audience and to engage more people in the effort to get Lowe’s to respond,” Mah told WICS. “As one of five Asian American state legislators who spend a good amount of time in Springfield, we have a responsibility to represent Asian Americans beyond the districts we represent. It’s important to shine a spotlight on anti-Asian racism, and do what we can to bring awareness and justice. This is not the only incident I have heard about involving anti-Asian racism at that particular Lowe’s, so the demand for racial sensitivity training for their employees is an important response we’d like to see.”
Hu hopes her encounter raises awareness about anti-Asian hate.
“I have two little babies,” she said. “When they grow up, they’re going to face the same issues I did. I’m standing for not only myself anymore. I’m standing for all the Asian people who are facing or have experienced the same thing with me.”