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How Racism Turned an Interracial Family's Trip to Walmart into a Kidnapping Investigation

'They don't fit' is the phrase that apparently prompted concern.
 
 
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A Virginia father's trip to Walmart last week took an unexpected turn when he was accused of kidnapping his three young daughters because their skin color did not match his. Joseph, a white father in an interracial marriage who does not want his family name revealed, has three daughters, a 4-year-old and 2-year-old twins. According to Fox News in DC, Joseph took them to Walmart in Potomac Mills in Woolbridge to cash a check, then was "shocked" to find a Prince William County police officer waiting for them at home.

"He asks us very sincerely, ‘Hey, I was sent here by Walmart security. I just need to make sure that the children that you have are your own,’” Joseph told Fox.

"I was dumbfounded," his wife, Keana, told Fox, "I sat there for a minute and I thought, ‘Did he just ask us if these were our kids knowing what we went through to have our children?’

"He took my ID and asked my 4-year-old to point out who her mother and father were."

Joseph told Fox an officer explained that a Walmart security guard  "reported seeing him in the parking lot with the girls and thought it was strange." After the cop left, Keana called Walmart and was transferred to a Walmart security officer who blamed a customer for the incredibly false alarm.

Keana says the security oficer told her, "Well, the customer was concerned because they saw the children with your husband and he didn't think that they fit. And I said, ‘What do you mean by they don't fit?’ And I was trying to get her to say it. And she says, ‘Well, they just don't match up.’”

Walmart issued a statement claiming, "There's still a lot of unknowns at this time and we're currently looking into the situation." Joseph and Keana will never shop at Walmart again, and are hoping they can make good of the incident by raising awareness about racism and love's ability to transcend skin color.

PSA: Multiracial families do not imply kidnapping. 

Kristen Gwynne is an associate editor and drug policy reporter at AlterNet.  Follow her on Twitter: @KristenGwynne

 
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