Sunday 21st January 2018,

Asian Americans

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Whole Foods Market Keeps Community Waiting Over Racial Slur Incident

posted by ShirleyNLew

Whole FoodsThe following letter from Kwok Ming Cheng & Shirley Lew was sent to Whole Foods in New York City in an attempt to solidify a meeting date over the use of a racial slur directed toward Kwok by a Whole Foods employee.
Despite several promises to meet, Whole Foods has yet to agree to any dates for a meeting.

August 27, 2014

Mr. Michael Sinatra:

I did not respond to your email on Monday right away because I am shocked that it has taken over a week to confirm a date and time for all of us to meet.

Last week, you asked me to supply you with dates and times that would work for Kwok and I. Yet, every date and time we offered was not convenient for either you or Damon. I could not help but feel that Kwok and I should be accommodating your schedules instead, but that should not be so. And, because we are at the end of August, you are now suggesting a telephone conversation with all of us to move things along and to prevent this from going into September. A telephone conference is not acceptable to us. It was just last week that you said we can meet “over coffee.”

The Asian American community is very well aware of this incident as it has been picked up by local Chinese media. Some people have already decided on their own to not shop at any Whole Foods Market until this incident is resolved.

We want to resolve this racial slur incident at the Whole Foods Market on 95 East Houston Street as quickly as you do. We also hoped that it would have received a response and resolution as quickly as the racial discrimination incident at the Whole Foods Market in Albueqerque, New Mexico last year.

Since this has dragged on interminably, I request that this email be replied to by Tuesday, September 3. Kwok and I want a face to face meeting on Friday, September 5 at 4pm.  Failing that, we will contact Whole Foods Market corporate headquarters to provide us with a new contact person to finally get this resolved.

Kwok Ming Cheng and Shirley Lew

How would you reply to Michael Sinatra?  Share your thoughts and comments below. Dr. Wenli Jen of Cal State University, Dominguez Hills did. Her letter to Whole Foods is below.


Dear Mr. Michael Sinatra,

I am inquiring about the current status of the public apology to be issued regarding the racial slurs against Asian Americans at a local Whole Foods store in New York. This is alarming especially as a long-time patron of the store at the lovely establishments here in California.

Would you happen to know why Whole Foods has not yet made a public apology, as it seems that Asian Americans are regarded as insignificant with no accountability noted in public in this offensive act by a staff, no less. We hope that the removal of this person from employment has already happened but we still have not heard on the West Coast an appropriate and timely public apology. Have you already met with the local Asian American groups there to develop an apology? If so, I would love to know so I can help to repair the tarnished name that Whole Foods is beginning to have here on the West Coast.

I hope that I could get some updates since many West Coast patrons have now been notified of the lack of response from what we thought was a once-remarkable company. I use to love Whole Foods, but this news is very disappointing. As you know, social media has accelerated the access to information and I wouldn’t want to see more negative publicity because of one racist and unprofessional employee. As a professor of business ethics, I hope that you can help to resolve this situation.

I wish that I can continue to shop at Whole Foods, but until there is a concrete, public apology, many of the people in California will begin to shop elsewhere, and I will too. Please help to continue to preserve the good image that Whole Foods should be aspiring to sustain in such a competitive market.

I look forward to hearing from you. Have a blessed day!

Best regards,

Dr. Wenli Jen
Professor of Business Ethics

California State University


Related Stories:

Whole Foods Says Ching Chong Incident not a Community Issue

Whole Foods opens dialogue about racist incident, but no public apology

Whole Foods investigates apparently racist incident at NY store

The history of the racial slur “ching chong”

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  1. Corky Lee says:

    RE: Whole Foods keeps community waiting over racial slur incident: Think a bunch of bodies picketing in front of Whole Foods will quicken the pace of talks, corporate America cringes @ bad publicity.

  2. DT says:

    You are being too courteous. Just copy corporate with this email already. Don’t be nice when this guy is giving you the run around. Go over his head and copy every top officer you can find, and make sure he knows you’re doing this. Sending nice letters will only get you pushed around.

    I would take a heavier stance on social media with #wholefoodsracist. And do not stop until a solution takes place. Tell them you also plan on protesting at their next shareholders meeting, as well as informing their top investors. Make sure you name the investors, which is easily found online.

  3. SC says:

    Re: Whole Foods Market keeps community waiting over racial slur incident: So any update? Are we just sweeping this under the rug?

    1. AsAmNews says:

      This issue is not over and there is work being done behind the scenes. We will update you as the issue develops further.

      1. @jlai4747 says:

        RE: Whole Foods Keeps Community Waiting Over Racial Slur: Any news on this story? Whole Foods CEO now says they are fighting racism by opening a store in Detriot:

        How about in their NY store?

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