LOS ANGELES—Restaurant Depot/Jetro fired Passion Schoolfield after the young Black woman voiced her opinion about Ye, (formerly known as Kanye West). The result of her termination ignited a grassroots campaign against anti-Blackness and plans to boycott the national cash and carry food supply chain.
Outraged about what happened to the 31-year-old cashier, leaders of the faith-based Grassroots Community Coalition Against Anti-Blackness (GCCAA) called on social justice and peace advocates, residents, workers and businesses to protest the store’s location on Jefferson Boulevard, between South L.A. and Beverly Hills, under the hashtag #StandWithPassion on November 30.
“This is a fight against anti-Blackness. Passion didn’t even render an opinion regarding what Kanye said about Jewish people and Black people. What she said was she likes him, he’s an icon in our culture. He’s an icon in our community,” stated her attorney Ludlow B. Creary, II. “My client does not deserve to lose the ability to take care of her children just because she says she likes Kanye West,” he argued. Ms. Schoolfield, 31, has three small children, two of them Black boys who are autistic.
The problem started as she and a customer chatted casually about celebrities, she stated. “I like Ye. He keeps it real,” she said. A random, White, male customer got out of the check-out line, got in her face, and questioned her several times: “You like Ye?” according to Ms. Schoolfield. He left and moments later, she was suspended. The next day, Nov. 15, she was fired.
Prior to the Nov. 30 protest and news conference, the coalition had an hour-long discussion with Ruben Del Valle, Restaurant Depot’s regional manager, and made their demands informally, reported Atty. Creary. They want compensation for the pain and suffering she experienced, a companywide implementation and communication of policies that promote diversity in hiring and promotion, and a fair, equitable and transparent termination process, among other things.
“The entire coalition of leaders that has been supporting Passion from day one was in that room, and the corporate offices know now that Passion has to be taken seriously, so we eagerly await their response to our demands, and we are very confident that Passion will prevail in this matter,” stated Atty. Creary.
GCCAA is comprised of Ms. Schoolfield, Atty. Creary, Abdul Malik Sayyid Muhammad, Nation of Islam Western Region Representative and student minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 27, Pastor Anthony “Shep” Crawford of The Experience Christian Ministries Church, Pastor Ryan David Sims of Revelation Church of God in Christ, Reverend K. W. Tulloss, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference and Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church, Sharis Rhodes, social justice advocate, and Quincy Jenkins, deacon at The Experience Christian Ministries Church.
From the beginning, GCCAA pointed out some policy issues, based on Ms. Schoolfield’s inappropriate termination, noted Pastor Sims. Either Restaurant Depot lacked a policy or didn’t follow their policy, he said.
“After meeting with them, there was an admittance that there was misinformation given to corporate that caused this young woman to be terminated. So, what we have said is solid and it is true,” stated Pastor Sims.
Until there are policy changes or an understanding of why Ms. Schoolfield was fired, he concurred, the community will continue to show up there. “There are many young men and women that face this type of thing all the time and they go home to cry, get on unemployment, and have nobody to call. Well, they messed with the wrong one this time,” added Pastor Sims. “GCCAA is here for you … any and everybody that experiences this type of hate in our community,” he added.
What happened to the young woman took the paralysis off of the community and they felt her pain, stated Student Minister Muhammad. “We’re here today to say, as other people are saying stop the anti-this and anti-that, stop anti-Blackness! This young lady was fired because she said she likes an entertainer, and that is wrong,” he told protesters shortly after the meeting, inside the cramped office.
“Corporate is trying to give her job back, but you went too far. We want to thank them for coming. I believe that they realize they did some things wrong, and as a result of that wrong, we want justice for Passion” added Student Minister Muhammad. He thanked those who answered the coalition’s call, including Rev. Frederick Shaw, president of the Inglewood South Bay NAACP, the Progressive Asian Network for Action, Gangsters for Christ, United in Peace Foundation, Southern California Cease Fire Coalition, and more.
“This is a Rosa Parks moment. We’re living in a cancel culture, but it looks like that cancel culture is directed at Black people with consciousness. And any of us who desire to stand up and be conscious and support one another, there seems to be a system in place that’s telling us we can’t do that,” he added. Student Minister Muhammad concluded that the GCCAA plans to stay vigilant because Jetro, a $7.5 billion corporation, has a systemic problem against Black people and people of color, and they will not allow it.
Before leaving the private meeting, coalition leaders gave the corporation another 24 hours to do right by Ms. Schoolfield, and Mr. Del Valle said the supply giant would be in touch. Later, he told The Final Call he could not comment, when asked for an interview.
Rev. Tulloss released the “Black Jobs Matter” poster he was holding to take the mic and express, “Today we stand to say enough is enough and we’re going to continue our efforts to be here week in and week out until justice is served!”
“Persistency. That is the word that we stand on today,” said Pastor Crawford. Basically, the ‘protests for Passion’ are the new Wednesday Bible Study or bowling session, he said. While pleased meetings have taken place, they are by no means satisfied with what they’ve heard from Restaurant Depot, he said. It is a shame that the community has to come together several times just to hear feedback, but will if that’s what’s necessary, he stated.
“We are making this a priority! … We stand behind her, making sure that she is good and also standing here for the community to show that we will not be bullied. We will not be treated as slaves. We will not creep around the master, trying to figure out if we could say this or say that,” he added.
Rev. Shaw made it clear that Blacks are facing systemic racism across the county. Be it the firing of the innocent, over-representation in mental health, it’s time for people to understand that Black leaders are all united.
“We come together now. We’re standing! This isn’t about just the young lady. This is what God is orchestrating so that the clergy and that the leaders of the community will stand up and defend our people,” said Rev. Shaw. “It’s not about hate! In fact, we’re going to emulate what other people do to protect their communities. We’re going to do it to protect our community,” he added.