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Malyangapa Barkindji rapper Barkaa has lashed out at Kmart after claiming she experienced a ‘distressing and humiliating’ racial profiling incident earlier this week.
Barkaa, who was born Chloe Quaylee, is an Indigenous woman known for bringing attention to important issues for First Nations people. Addressing the incident on her Instagram page, she described how she visited Kmart Merrylands with her two young children and asked the store to “do better”.
She claimed one of the Kmart workers spotted Barkaa in the store and wouldn’t stop staring at her, before grabbing two young men and starting to follow the family around the store.
“All three followed me through the toy section with my young kids, snickering things under their breath and laughing,” she claimed.
The artist then confronted the woman and asked her to stop following her as it was "rude". Feeling uncomfortable, she called for her kids and immediately started leaving, when the two young men continued to follow them through the store.
“I decided to start video recording as it was distressing and humiliating for me…they then turned down another aisle,” she explained.
Her experience didn’t finish there, and claimed once the family had paid for everything and went to leave the store she was stopped again. She said three workers came to pull all of her items out of the bag in front of everyone, and didn’t check any other shoppers’ bags.
Barkaa wrote passionately about how awful the experience was on Instagram, saying that she has a large platform and needs to use it.
“So many of us are still being discriminated against and racially profiled, followed around in stores and targeted just for being who we are. Tonight I felt humiliated and ashamed, I had people looking at me and my young kids like we had done something wrong,” she began.
The star said she ‘felt like crying’ after the incident, but had to be strong and talk to her kids about what had happened.
“[I had to] comfort my eldest daughter when she said to me, "We just wanted to go shopping, we always go there.’ I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” she finished.
Her post quickly gained support, with people calling Kmart "disgusting" and "ridiculous".
“This is f**ked, I’m so sorry,” wrote artist Kira Puru.
“Wtf, thank you for speaking out sis! Shame on you Kmart, sounds like you need to put all your staff through cultural incompetence training!” actress Guyala Bayles added.
“Kmart, you are one of the most profitable department stores in this country. You reported AU$9.982 billion in revenue in 2020-2021. You can afford to train yourselves in the higher-ups, all your staff, security and then some. No excuses,” reporter Tania Safi chimed in.
Yahoo Lifestyle reached out to Kmart and a spokesperson said they have been in contact with Barkaa, telling us: "We are aware of Barkaa’s experience in our store and we are investigating internally and taking it extremely seriously."
"We want all our customers to have a great experience every time they are in one of our stores and we understand we have not delivered on this experience this time around," the Kmart spokesperson continued.
The rapper posted on her Instagram story on Friday that she was not going to tolerate any racist comments, saying that she doesn’t care for their opinion.
“It’s 2022, I don’t need to ask racists for permission to be a Blak woman in this country with a voice. What happened was unacceptable, if my kids weren’t there I probably would’ve swept it under the rug like I do every other time I get racially profiled in shopping centres," she said.
"But due to the severity of the situation, I’m not backing down and I have every right to be upset about it…it was traumatic for myself and my babies."
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