Lawsuit: Albertsons Clerk Assumed Black Woman in Irvine Was Going to Pay with Food Stamps

In the annals of embarrassing moments in Orange County African-American women comes this gem: A woman is suing Albertsons because she claimed a store clerk in Irvine assumed she was going to pay with food stamps.

42-year-old Deidre Harris filed a lawsuit, according to a story by ace reporter Deepa Bharath of the Orange County Register, after shopping at her local Albertsons. While Harris searched for her debit card, the clerk asked if she was going to pay with an EBT card. When Harris asked for an explanation from the clerk’s superiors, they responded that the clerk was merely trying to give her free grocery bags, because food-stamp recipients are entitled to that. When that didn’t work, a supervisor offered Harris $500 to just go away. Um, okay…

“I felt completely demoralized,” Harris—who grew up in Huntington Beach and has lived in Irvine for over 20 years, and ain’t that a hell of a gauntlet for a black woman to live through?—told Bharath. “For me, it was a very clear reminder — a painful reminder — that we do not live in a post-racial era.”

The Register reported that Irvine has an African-American population of less than one percent, which ain’t too far off from OC’s 2010 Census figures of 2.1 percent. Irvine in particular is notorious in OC for anti-black incidents that aren’t malicious so much as stupid: serving fried chicken for Martin Luther King Day at UC Irvine, or an Asian fraternity donning blackface, or a flier at an Irvine apartment complex telling black residents to keep the music down, or…you get the picture.

Representing Harris is Chris Mears, an ex-Irvine councilmember who was among the first to blow the whistle on what a fiasco the Great Park was becoming. Hey, Chris: while Bharath is cool people, you should’ve given us the story first, given we’ve been reporting on the embarrassment that is OC’s dealing with its black residents since forever.

Stay classy, OC!

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