STORIES

WHOLE FOODS AND THEIR HATE CRIME HOOLIGANS – RACISM 365

Minorities and immigrants apparently do not get the benefit of respect as Whole Foods Market shoppers, as there are hundreds of consumer complaints of routine race-based targeting, surveilling, shadowing, and open suspicion. Whole Foods’ inherent hostility toward people of color spending their hard earned money purchasing asparagus water should ideally be assessed and noted for what it is: a system created to discourage minorities from patronizing Whole Foods locations where they are clearly not welcome, clearly not valued, and openly not respected.

This is what racism looks like.

A New York man was shopping at a Whole Foods location when, unprovoked, the loss prevention security attacked him with a homophobic slur, assaulting him to unconsciousness with the chokehold maneuver.
He was shopping for grapes.

HOW TO EMOTIONALLY DRAIN YOUR CUSTOMERS: WHOLE FOODS MARKET GUIDE

Whole Foods Market Guide To The Mistreatment Of The Marginalized

How to mistreat your unvalued customer

Spot brown customer entering Whole Foods Market on surveillance video

Immediately stalk customer around the premises

Intentionally make customer feel anxious, intimidated, and harassed

Laugh if customer tries to complain about biased treatment

Make certain that customer does not return to location to shop

Because color of skin

Mission accomplished

AMAZON’S CEO ON HIS “BREAK-THEN-FIX” APPROACH TO FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY

Because we are living in the Twilight Zone, herein lies the thoughts of Amazon’s CEO regarding the contribution of Amazon facial recognition technology to the actual or potential violations of civil or human rights. On the potential for the technology to endanger, threaten, or violate privacy and or civil rights. On the potential of Amazon’s facial recognition technology to disproportionately impact people of color, immigrants, and activists.

Amazon Rekognition has a 68% classification accuracy rate for women of color relative to 100% for white men
"Eventually, society will develop an 'immune response' to bad uses of
 technology."

- Jeff Bezos 

Source: CNN Amazon Will Keep Working With the DoD (Oct., 2018)

Welcome to the present.

PROMINENT TECH RESEARCHERS PEN OPEN LETTER TO AMAZON CITING RACIAL BIAS IN FACIAL REKOGNITION SOFTWARE

"Overall, we find [Amazon's] response to peer-reviewed research
 findings disappointing...We call on Amazon to stop selling Rekognition."

 Concerned Researchers.
Amazon Rekognition surveillance software has a low accuracy rate of 68% for women of color – relative to a 100% accuracy rate for white males

Prominent artificial intelligence researchers in tech, concerned about violations of the civil rights of American citizens and potential loss of liberties, have responded to Amazon’s defensive hostility in On Recent Research Auditing Commercial Facial Analysis Technology. Visit HERE to read the tech communities’ open letter to the tech giant.

CONCERNED RESEARCHERS

Ali Alkhatib, Stanford University

Noura Al Moubayed, Durham University

Miguel Alonso Jr, Florida International University

Anima Anandkumar, Caltech (formerly Principal Scientist at AWS)

Akilesh Badrinaaraayanan, MILA/University of Montreal

Esube Bekele, National Research Council fellow

Yoshua Bengio, MILA/University of Montreal

Alex Berg, UNC Chapel Hill

Miles Brundage, OpenAI; Oxford; Axon AI Ethics Board

Dan Calacci, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Pablo Samuel Castro, Google

Abir Das, IIT Kharagpur

Hal Daumé III, Microsoft Research and University of Maryland

Maria De-Arteaga, Carnegie Mellon University

Mostafa Dehghani, University of Amsterdam

Emily Denton, Google

Lucio Dery, Facebook AI Research

Priya Donti, Carnegie Mellon University

Hamid Eghbal-zadeh, Johannes Kepler University Linz

Paul Feigelfeld, IFK Vienna, Strelka Institute

Jessica Finocchiaro, University of Colorado Boulder

Andrea Frome, Google

Field Garthwaite, IRIS.TV

Timnit Gebru, Google

Sebastian Gehrmann, Harvard University

Georgia Gkioxari, Facebook AI Research

Alvin Grissom II, Ursinus College

Sergio Guadarrama, Google

Alex Hanna, Google

Bernease Herman, University of Washington

William Isaac, Deep Mind

Alexia Jolicoeur-Martineau, MILA/University of Montreal

Yannis Kalantidis, Facebook AI

Khimya Khetarpal, MILA/McGill University

Michael Kim, Stanford University

Morgan Klaus Scheuerman, University of Colorado Boulder

Hugo Larochelle, Google/MILA

Hugo Larochelle, Google/MILA

Erik Learned-Miller, UMass Amherst

Xing Han Lu, McGill University

Kristian Lum, Human Rights Data Analysis Group

Michael Madaio, Carnegie Mellon University

Tegan Maharaj, Mila/École Polytechnique

João Martins, Carnegie Mellon University

El Mahdi El Mhamdi, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Vincent Michalski, MILA/University of Montreal

Margaret Mitchell, Google

Melanie Mitchell, Portland State University and Santa Fe Institute

Ioannis Mitliagkas, MILA/University of Montreal

Bhaskar Mitra, Microsoft and University College London

Jamie Morgenstern, Georgia Institute of Technology

Bikalpa Neupane, Pennsylvania State University, UP

Ifeoma Nwogu, Rochester Institute of Technology

Vicente Ordonez-Roman, University of Virginia

Pedro O. Pinheiro

Vinodkumar Prabhakaran, Google

Parisa Rashidi, University of Florida

Anna Rohrbach, UC Berkeley

Daniel Roy, University of Toronto

Negar Rostamzadeh

Kate Saenko, Boston University

Niloufar Salehi, UC Berkeley

Anirban Santara, IIT Kharagpur (Google PhD Fellow)

Brigit Schroeder, Intel AI Lab

Laura Sevilla-Lara, University of Edinburgh

Shagun Sodhani, MILA/University of Montreal

Biplav Srivastava

Luke Stark, Microsoft Research Montreal

Rachel Thomas, fast.ai; University of San Francisco

Briana Vecchione, Cornell University

Toby Walsh, UNSW Sydney

Serena Yeung, Harvard University

Yassine Yousfi, Binghamton University

Richard Zemel, Vector & University of Toronto

WHOLE FOODS MARKET PERSONAL SHOPPER SERVICE FOR MINORITIES ONLY – SPECIAL TREATMENT EDITION

Whole Foods Market seems to have added a personal security detail service for minority shoppers only. For the whole price of nothing, the undercover loss prevention officer will follow you around the whole store to ensure that you find all of your items okay, also making sure that you pay for them. Just in case.

Just don’t try using EBT as a form of payment.

Be sure to ask them about this special service next time you visit a Whole Foods Market location.

NO LONGER WANTING IN ON THE “WHOLE PAYCHECK” JOKE, WHOLE FOODS DOES PR TO SAVE ITS SOUL

After years of alienating and in some cases, literally running people of color out of its stores, Whole Foods does a massive PR push to attract new consumers. A press release from Whole Foods indicates that the grocery store plans to run a promotional tactic beginning this week, slashing prices on dozens of items to help bring in new faces to scan. The more the merrier.

Oh! And if you happen to be using SNAP benefits to pay for your newly discounted produce, good luck with that!

MAN WANTED IN CONNECTION WITH MULTIPLE THEFTS – WHOLE FOODS PHILA EDITION

In news no one is surprised about…

A Philadelphia man is wanted in connection with multiple thefts at a Whole Foods location in Philadelphia.

He was afforded the privilege to walk in on several occasions, grab thousands of dollars in seafood and expensive cuts of meat, and confidently walk right out of the door without question, harassment or accosting.

Here is what the man looks like.

Apparently Whole Foods security personnel doesn’t perceive him as suspicious and so his naturally occurring “trusted” status made him invisible, enabling him to come and go as he pleased without being stalked. Multiple times.

How odd.

If you have any information about this person please call the Philadelphia Police department at 215-686-TIPS (8477).

Surveillance Video Of The Privileged Individual Perusing Whole Foods Without Suspicion

WHAT I LEARNED DURING A WHOLE MONTH OF CELEBRATING WOMEN’S HISTORY WITH WHOLE FOODS MARKET

For this month of March, 2019, I elected to celebrate Women’s History Month everyday with Whole Foods Market like no one else could – I celebrated like a bonafide rock star. How have I come to this conclusion you ask? Well, what started out as a month long task, a promise to myself that I would honor a commitment to post content to Whole Foods Mafia daily in celebration thereof, turned out to be an educational excursion for me in fact. Those “Aha!” moments became, as the celebratory days moved along, deep, insightful, meaningful discoveries with respect to the microcosm of racism.

You see, I have never put much thought into trying to figure out how racists think. It has simply never been something that I thought I knew a whole lot about. I’m not a sociologist, I’m not a mind-reader, and I’m not a racist. So I have little to no understanding of this mindset as I am simply not an expert on other people. Though admittedly I did assume that if I lived my life like a normal, hard-working, decent human being, treating everyone with respect regardless of their race, that I myself could largely escape the worst of what racism has to offer in terms of suffering. This was emphatically false as I have come to recognize that the issue of racism is such an encompassing and pervasive one that none of us, as long as we possess a skin color that ranges from ever so slightly caramel to dark, is exempt from the humiliation, the angst, the pain that this hardship creates in our lives. Simply: as long as you/me/we are a minority, then you/me/we will, at some point, be perceived as less than. Incapable. Criminal. Sub-human.

In my career I have been fortunate to work amongst and around professionals who appreciate me for my talent, my skill set, my ability to deliver, my work ethic. When I go to work I shine. I am appreciated. I am respected. In contrast If I go to a Whole Foods right now I would be targeted for harassment 100% because of the color of the my skin and I am wholly disgusted by this. Not really one to allow myself to be repeatedly victimized, I personally don’t patronize Whole Foods, however many people of color and women do and thus are experiencing disturbing instances of racial harassment and discrimination. ESPECIALLY women, of any race, who shop at Whole Foods unaccompanied. It’s sickening and it’s distressing.

Via this journey to curate content on a platform for others to publicly voice their frustrations concerning profiling at various Whole Foods locations, I myself have learned the following truths:

TRUTH #1

Whole Foods doesn’t care about Black people (Kanye voice). Rather than spend any amount of time making any attempt to address their issue with race at the corporate level, Whole Foods has chosen to ignore.you.all. Hispanic, Asian, Latin-American, African-American, men and women, customers and employees from various backgrounds and cultures have complained over and over (there are nearly 100 consumer complaints on this platform alone), and Whole Foods simply refuses to give a fuck about any of you people or what you think. I have made a conscious choice not to obscure the word “fuck” in the previous statement. Sorry, but it needs to be said because this is really sad yet extremely telling.

TRUTH #2

All those Master’s degrees in one room, sitting around a conference room table, and the best solution that they could come up with is to try to hack WholeFoodsMafia.com. Honestly, I have no words for this. I mean, I am not willfully trying to insult anyone’s intelligence here but it has to be stated. Not ONE person, of all the VPs, SVPs, Senior Managers at the corporate level, and not ONE PERSON said, “Why don’t we address the issue of how our company policies and procedures are perceived as racist and how this has been negatively affecting our employees, our customers, and our brand!” Oh no, this is not how the conversation went, as apparently the smartest person in the room actually suggested, “Why don’t we just hack that damn website, take it offline, and then all this goes away!”. And all the other equally as smart individuals at the table agreed that this is the best way to deal with the deeply ingrained racism at that company? Honestly, I’m floored. I truly can’t believe this is 2019 – it’s so surreal.

TRUTH #3

There are clearly no people of color in that room. Which is another issue all on its own, but whatever. I’m not trying to be the agent of change for the whole world, I’m just one person.

TRUTH #4

I’m not exactly sure how an employee with a restaurant and hospitality degree works for a company for 20 years, appeals for a management position multiple times over the course of more than a decade, is denied time and time again, and then ONLY gets a crack at a management opportunity after filing a complaint with the EEOC after 21 freaking years. If that ain’t racism then I don’t know what the hell is!! Let that one soak in a bit!

TRUTH #5

This is not so much a truth that I have learned, but moreso a truthful statement. Amazon should know that I can see their ip addresses when their tech bros try to hack this site. I can’t see the ip addresses of visitors but as soon as a hacker enters a backslash plus any hack command, the command and the ip address of the user is logged. With all of the hours that Amazon’s bros have spent trying to hack WholeFoodsMafia.com one would think that that time could have been better spent evaluating the racism issues at Whole Foods and coming up with viable solutions on how to fix them so that the company operates with a more inclusive mindset. And not just with an empty statement, “Whole Foods respects everyone”, but in real life. How can anything change if the focus is on harassing and silencing the people who are advocating for something healthier and better? This is just the most bizarre, mob-style, backwards approach, but again, I am nothing. I am but a blade of grass.

So my rockstardom is admittedly self-appointed, and I am celebrating other rock star women, some of whom happen to be hurt, betrayed consumers. And I hope to have given some of those hurt, betrayed consumers relief from their frustration and their pain with the very public confirmation that –

THE PROBLEM IS NOT YOU!

Stay strong people!

THE CASE OF ALGORITHMIC DISCRIMINATION AND HOW IT ADVERSELY AFFECTS MINORITiES – WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH EDITION

MIT researchers Joy Buolamwini, Deborah Raji, Stanford’s Timnit Gebru, and others, have as part of a team dedicated remarkable efforts to the demo testing of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) in facial recognition software and the synthesis of its data output. Their exhaustive study of bias in AI concluded that Amazon’s facial recognition software Rekognition, a software being sold to law enforcement and also used for retail security surveillance, exhibits significant gender and racial bias for gender classification. In Joy’s MIT thesis titled “Gender Shades: Intersectional Accuracy Disparities in Commercial Gender Classification“, the team’s findings concluded that this racial and gender bias in surveillance AI adversely affects women and minority groups who are then subject to increased surveillance, searches, interrogations, and potential loss of liberties. Writer and CNET News reporter Alfred Ng wrote of the software that lack of standards to prevent abuse and AI bias could “get you banned from places you’ve never been” (CNET.com), as store security is free to share their biased data about you across a vast network.

So next time you are browsing in a Whole Foods Market or a Target and you find yourself being stalked while Black by store security, please do think about the below findings and whether or not you are comfortable with this:

“…An error in the output of a face recognition algorithm used as [a deciding factor in surveillance] can have serious consequences. For example, someone could be wrongfully accused of a crime based on erroneous but confident misidentification of the perpetrator from security video footage analysis.”

Screen capture of actual data output using the face of TV personality Oprah Winfrey
Amazon Rekognition software demo (Source: “Ain’t I A Woman”)

“In other contexts, a demographic group that is underrepresented in benchmark datasets can nonetheless be subjected to frequent targeting…False positives and unwarranted searches pose a threat to civil liberties. Some face recognition systems have been shown to misidentify people of color, women, and young people at high rates (Klare et al., 2012).”

Screen capture of actual data output using the face of Civil Rights activist Ida B. Wells
Amazon Rekognition software demo (Source: “Ain’t I A Woman”)

“Past research has also shown that the accuracies of face recognition systems used by US-based law enforcement are systematically lower for people labeled female, Black, or between the ages of 18-30 than for other demographic cohorts (Klare et al., 2012). The latest gender classification report from the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) also shows that algorithms [that the] NIST evaluated performed worse for female-labeled faces than male-labeled faces.” (source: Gender Shades: Intersectional Accuracy Disparities in Commercial Gender Classification)

Help fight bias by sharing your experience or concerns with surveillance AI technology HERE.

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING AT WHOLE FOODS MARKET – INT’L U.N. DAY EDITION

Today’s gift from Whole Foods Market is in the spirit of the U.N.’s International Day For the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – March 21st, as a Whole Foods Market employee in Philadelphia has filed a federal lawsuit against his employer of 21 years for just that.

Racism. The Whole Foods Market gift that keeps on giving.

Photo courtesy of Philly.com | Photographer Tricia Burrough | Lilac Blossom Photography

The long-suffering Whole Foods manager knows the inside story all too well, and so is taking his fight for equality to a federal courtroom. Having expressed his concerns to various Whole Foods management for more than a decade, the fed up employee finally filed a formal complaint with the EEOC last Spring. Recognizing that there is a company-wide pattern that demonstrates a serious systemic racial discrimination issue deeply imbedded within the Whole Foods corporate culture, the 45 year old college degree holder has brought the newly filed suit seeking unspecified damages for him and possibly for other Whole Foods team members who continue to suffer in similar circumstances at the company.

To read more about the case of Jaleel McFadden vs. Whole Foods Market please visit Philadelphia Magazine for a much more detailed article about this story.

Back to back federal lawsuits for workplace bias and racial discrimination at Whole Foods Market.

Similarly, just this past January, 2019 a U.S district judge has given the green light for a racial discrimination case filed by a former New York City Whole Foods employee, in the case of Thierno Diallo vs. Whole Foods. Diallo’s complaint highlights discriminatory and hostile treatment regularly experienced by him over the course of 3 years, only to be exacerbated by his call to a corporate whistleblower hotline reporting these conditions. He was shortly thereafter terminated for making prayer while on the clock with Whole Foods citing the reason for his termination as theft of time. However, in Diallo’s complaint he cites instances of other, more privileged team members similarly overstaying breaks but rather receiving promotions in spite of this. To read the U.S. District Court’s opinion and order on this matter, please view HERE. We wish both men all the luck in their fight for equality and fair treatment, and we 100% support their cause.

Happy International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination!!

THE NEW YORK CITY COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS LAUNCHES “WHILE BLACK” CAMPAIGN

It’s about to get real for corporate racists because the New York City Commission on Human Rights has newly launched a campaign titled, “While Black“. Meant to target individuals with darker skin tone who experience discrimination while simply walking, shopping, or doing any of a list of mundane activities that most humans do, but yet face clear discrimination simply because of their race or heritage.

The campaign strives to reach all New Yorkers with the very poignant message that business owners, employers, property managers, etc. can and will be held legally liable for targeting minorities because of the color of their skin. The goal of the campaign is to affirm to all Black and Brown people that you have the absolute right to live your life free of the pain, the humiliation, and the emotional distress that race-based bias and discrimination causes.

Carmelyn P. Malalis, the Commissioner and Chair of the New York Commission on Human Rights asserts:

This campaign references the deep connections between the fight against anti-Black racism and the fight for human rights.  It affirms the experiences of Black people who have been targeted for discrimination, harassment and intimidation while simply going about their day-to-day lives, and puts those who would seek to discriminate, harass or intimidate Black New Yorkers on notice that bigotry and bias will not be tolerated in our city.

So basically, Whole Foods.

If you have experienced being followed while Black at Whole Foods Market or faced racial discrimination at any New York City retailer, bank, employment agency, broker, or employer, please do report the discrimination to the NYCCHR at 718-722-3131. Please feel free to also fill out an online form to report the discrimination HERE.

It is your human right to live free of bias and discrimination while Black!!

DEAR TECH COMPANY – WHOLE FOODS STORE SURVEILLANCE EDITION

Dear Whole Foods security and surveillance team.

How do you use the thousands of Whole Foods customer photos that you capture and store in your security surveillance database? Who do you sell that information to? Who do you share that information with?

How many women are misclassified in your surveillance database as men?

How many individuals are misclassified in your surveillance database as having a criminal history? What is the measurement error of that?

How many individuals are misclassified in your surveillance database as undocumented?

How many individuals are misclassified in your surveillance database as homeless?

How many individuals are misclassified in your surveillance database as suspicious?

How many women have their home address, their work address, their vehicle make and model, their median income, their marriage status, their occupation pop-up on your surveillance screen the very second that they walk into a Whole Foods Market to buy lentils?

How many women are followed by an undercover loss prevention officer while shopping at Whole Foods because your little surveillance screen misclassifies them as having a predisposition to criminality?

How many individuals, on average, does your biased surveillance AI racially profile?

Since when did buying groceries become so f****ng taxing?




THE WEAPONIZATION OF FACIAL RECOGNITION SOFTWARE – WHOLE FOODS RETAIL EDITION

Ever wondered why they’re following YOU specifically?

According to a recent article published by the New York Times, MIT research has shown that facial recognition software is not coded to correctly identify and classify human beings of all genders, skin tones, and facial structures without demonstrating a biased output that benefits mostly White males. Though some facial recognition software systems claim to have the technology to detect criminality in the faces of public citizens, Amazon’s face surveillance technology Rekognition in fact falsely identified 28 members of Congress as criminals in a user test conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Rekogition software has a 32% error rate in analyzing the faces of women or color

Despite the data-science proof of gender and racial bias in Amazon’s retail surveillance software, women and men of all races and backgrounds continue to be surveilled, monitored, and their images stored in Amazon’s facial recognition database for private use and/or possible misuse. Unregulated and unchecked by any agency.

To read more about Amazon’s commercial facial analysis system Rekogntion, and how it may be affecting you, your family, and your community, please take the time to read any of the below sources about the algorithmically race based bias in surveillance software:

Welcome To The Era Of Facial Recognition Technology: Changing The Game On How Minorities Are Treated

Racial And Gender Bias in Amazon Rekognition – Commerical AI Systems For Analyzing Faces

TED Talk: How I’m Fighting Bias In Algorithms

ACLU: Amazon’s Face Recognition Falsely Matched 28 Members of Congress With Mugshots

Facial Recognition Fail: Amazon Project Mistakes Lawmakers With Suspects

Study Finds Racial Bias in Amazon’s Facial Recognition Tech

THE EXISTENTIAL ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE FORMER WHOLE FOODS SHOPPER – WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH EDITION

Women.

Congressional leaders, House speakers, attorney generals, judges, activists, public advocates, volunteers, protesters, organizers, officers, union reps, and also as soon as they enter into a Whole Foods they are under suspicion as potentially there to break the law.

Happy Women’s History Month!!