A Victorian IGA Is Under Fire For Racially Profiling African Customers

"If an African customer comes to the bottle shop press the button for an assistant immediately."

IGA African

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An IGA store has been accused of encouraging employees to racially profile African-Australians. The Sunshine West franchise in Victoria allegedly had signs on the cash registers prompting staff to request backup if a Black customer entered the store.

“If an African customer comes to the bottle shop presses [sic] the button for an assistant immediately!” the note read. “Minimum 2 staffs in front while we serve African.”

African diaspora have been at the centre of discrimination in Victoria since 2016 after the police, politicians, and the media portrayed Sudanese migrants as dangerous criminals and gang members in a widespread, self-serving moral panic. However, experts believe the fear mongering has been going on for more than a decade.

The ripple effect of this racist fear continues to trickle into everyday life. Young musician Abeeku told the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission last year that his band had been denied gigs over anti-African sentiments.

“I asked why, and the new owner said that our gigs attracted too many people from the African community, and that he was worried about how their other patrons felt,” he shared. “I asked him if he was kidding. He said he wasn’t.”

In 2018, the Commission saw a 76 percent rise in formal complaints and a 34 percent jump in race-related inquiries. “What we heard, on the back of that sort of commentary, people in the African community called us on our inquiry line, they talked to us about being afraid to take public transport, we heard people who were spat on waiting for buses or other forms of public transport,” they said at the time.

— Update: Monday November 29 4.30pm — 

Statement from IGA’s parent company Metcash:

IGA stores are independently owned and operated, but after the video in question was brought to our attention, we immediately took corrective action with the store in question, including removal of the sign and mandatory training for store staff. This type of behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in any IGA store across the country. As part of our ongoing commitment to supporting local communities across Australia, we will ensure ALL IGA employees continue to create a shopping environment where all are welcome and equal.