In Texas, it’s common to hear people speaking Spanish in public. However, it’s not always welcome. One Facebook user, Joel Aparicio, took a live video on Sunday of a Walmart employee telling him that he needed to know English, and that if he didn’t know the language, he shouldn’t be in the country.
In the video, an employee is seen helping Aparicio at a self-checkout station in a Walmart in Pasadena, Texas. Aparicio, who has lived in the Houston area for 13 years, asks the employee if it’s necessary to speak English, and she says, in Spanish, yes, because they are in Texas. He continues to try to speak to her in Spanish, to which she says, “no, no, no, en inglés.”
Aparicio told the Houston Chronicle that the checkout machine had malfunctioned and that when the employee arrived to help him, he asked her if she spoke Spanish. She initially said no, to which Aparicio asked if he could get help from someone who spoke Spanish. She was able to fix the problem, but she returned when it malfunctioned again shortly after.
That’s when Aparicio says she told him, in Spanish, that he shouldn’t be in the country if he can’t speak English.
The video shows what follows after that comment. As the woman leaves a second time, Aparicio tells her, in Spanish, “You don’t have green eyes to only be speaking English.”
“I live in Texas, so I speak English,” the woman concludes in English, before walking away.
Aparicio told the Chronicle that the interaction made him feel bad. He had been going to that Walmart location for a decade, and never had anyone treated him like that in the store, he said. Aparicio, who is from El Salvador, said he’d never experienced “something like this” in Houston before.
“I felt discriminated, to be truthful,” he told the publication. “Just because I didn’t speak English.”
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The video Aparicio took of the employee has gone viral in the four days following the interaction, garnering more than 400,000 views and 4,000 shares. Many have posted supportive comments telling Aparicio to ignore the woman’s insistence that he speak English and report her behavior.
However, Aparicio has received threats as a result. One person, who identified the woman in the video as his grandmother, called Aparicio a “fucking Mexican bitch” and told him to “learn some fucking English hoe ass n***a.” Another, who identified the woman as her mother, threatened to “kick his mother fucking ass.”
Despite the backlash, however, Aparicio had hope for the situation. The woman looked Hispanic, he said, and they should try to help one another. Walmart told the publication it addressed the incident internally.
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Aparicio said.