A Spanish-speaking Houston area Walmart customer says he was discriminated against by an employee at the store. Joel Aparicio posted a video on Facebook of the employee telling him to “speak English” because “we’re in Texas.” The incident occurred Sunday at the Pasadena Walmart, Aparicio said.
“This lady didn’t want to speak Spanish. She discriminated me by saying she didn’t speak Spanish,” Aparicio wrote on Facebook. Walmart told the Houston Chronicle that the company is aware of the video and said the incident is being discussed internally. The woman in the video, whose name tag says her name is Cecilia, has not been identified.
You can watch the video below:
Aparicio told the Houston Chronicle that a self-checkout machine malfunctioned, so he asked the Walmart employee for help. He asked her if any of the workers spoke Spanish, and she said no. Aparicio said the woman fixed the problem and left, but the error occurred again. When she came back to help a second time he says she told him that he shouldn’t be in the country if he does not speak English, Aparicio recorded their interaction. The video shows Aparicio speaking in Spanish to Cecilia, asking her, “It’s necessary to speak English then?” She replies, also in Spanish, “Yes, because we’re in Texas.” He responds, “Only because of that?” and she nods. She then tells him as she walks away, “I live in Texas, so I speak English.”
The video has been viewed and shared thousands of times since Aparicio posted it on Facebook on October 14. He told the Houston Chronicle that he is originally from El Salvador, but has lived in Houston for 13 years. According to his Facebook page, Aparicio runs a construction company, Aparicio Foundation Repair, based in Pasenda and has owned the company since 2006. He told the Chronicle he has been going to the Pasadena Walmart for at least the past 10 years. The father of two said he was left disheartened by the interaction, and said it is the first time something like that has happened in the Houston area.
“I felt bad. No one had ever treated me like that in that store. They’ve always been friendly,” he told the newspaper. “I felt discriminated, to be truthful. Just because I didn’t speak English.”
On Facebook, Aparicio posted a screenshot of a message he received from someone claiming to be the Walmart employee’s grandson. The man told him, “Say you f*cking MExican bitch. Learn some f*cking English hoe ass n*gga. If I find you, I’ma f*ck you up big time for messing with my grandmother.” Another person also commented on the video, telling Aparicio that it was her mom he recorded in the video. In her comment, the woman threatened to “kick (Aparicio’s) motherf*cking ass.” Aparicio said he reported the threats to police. It is not clear if an investigation is underway.
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Aparicio told Chron.com. “She looked Hispanic. We have to try to help each other.”