Stop Racist Practices at Toyota USA
  • Petitioned Toyota Motor Company

This petition was delivered to:

Toyota Motor Company

Stop Racist Practices at Toyota USA

    1. Aurora Chang
    2. Petition by

      Aurora Chang

      Laramie, WY

Racism can't be tolerated.

I have a personal, painful and deplorable experience to share - one that will forever be with me and one that I will always associate with Toyota. It involves blatant racial discrimination, personal humiliation (the likes of which I cannot compare) and an exemplary model for what a business person, or any human being for that matter, should NOT do.

I was recently hired as a University of Wyoming faculty member in the Department of Educational Studies. Two days ago, while my partner was paying me a visit, we decided to take a look at 4X4 vehicles, a Toyota RAV4 was my preference, since my Toyota Yaris was particularly small and inappropriate for the Wyoming winters. I know that you are familiar with Colorado weather and can understand where I am coming from. I had had a decent experience with my Toyota and we figured that we would support local business by purchasing the new vehicle at one of the dealers in town. Ken's Toyota Kars is just up the road from my recently acquired home so we drove up on what was another beautiful Laramie summer day. Little did I know, this would turn into one of the worst days of my life.

In a nutshell, my African American partner and I (Latina) were told to our faces that our business was not wanted there, nor our money. We were escorted to the door and told to please leave. Paul, the finance specialist, there, was the perpetrator.

I learned many new details about the racial discrimination my partner and I encountered through a YELP review which a witness posted (and then later it was filtered out by the business), including the racial slurs ("damn spics" and "border jumpers") that were thrown at us (albeit behind closed doors) and frankly, the illegal business practices which are taking place at this dealership by denying my business on the basis of my racial/ethnic background. I thought Laramie was a town that was trying to get past the stain of the Mathew Shepard incident. Now, I see, firsthand and personally, how much more work needs to be done. Even further, I know that Toyota will not stand by this type of dishonorable conduct. Any discrimination - based on sexual orientation, race, religion, or the like - is unacceptable. And, I, especially as a university professor here, will not stand for this discriminatory treatment. In fact, I will go out of my way, to share this experience with every person, organization, and social media outlet I know.

Perhaps the finance person (Paul) at Ken's Toyota Kars had never encountered an educated pair of people of color - one Latina and the other African American. And, perhaps, in the past, he has gotten away with discriminating others who did not have the financial, social or academic capital to advocate appropriately for themselves. Paul's behavior is despicable, no matter who you are, but on August 8th, Paul initiated a series of steps that must result in his dismissal and in education for Toyota employees. I should mention that not one of the salespeople in the showroom came to our defense. Silence is sometimes worse than words. The inaction of the Toyota employees was equally disdainful. The fact that it took an outside witness to document this, that she felt so compelled to share it - shows you what an impact it had, not only on us, but on a simple passerby.

I, for one, will absolutely use my voice and position to denounce this Toyota dealership and employees - and everything they represent. I write this with tears in my eyes. As an immigrant to this country with degrees from UC Berkeley, Stanford and the University of Texas at Austin and 15 years serving as an educator - I simply cannot believe that, in 2012, this is something I had to endure.

Needless to say, I will never do business with Toyota again and will spread the word widely encouraging others to do the same. After that regretful incident, I headed straight to Fort Collins where I bought a Honda CRV - where every person treated me with the utmost dignity and respect.

Please sign this petition and pass it on if you are outraged at this backward business.

Thank you,

Dr. Aurora Chang

To:
Toyota Motor Company
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Toyota USA and Ken's Toyota Kars of Laramie, WY.

----------------
Take responsibility for racist business practices.

Racism can't be tolerated.
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Sincerely,

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Six months later - Toyota still indifferent toward racist act

      Aurora Chang
      Petition Organizer

      Here's the email I sent out to Toyota today:

      Dear Ken,

      Almost six months to the day that your business racially discriminated against me, I have yet to hear a response from your "independent" investigator, nor have you bothered to contact me. What a disgrace on your part. Perhaps you thought I would not keep my promise to see this through and you could now put this behind you - if you made that assumption, you are sorely mistaken. I am an educated woman of integrity, commitment and persistence and I refuse to back down from the illegal behavior and suffering that your business imposed upon me.

      Each day, I drive by Ken's Toyota on my way to work or the supermarket, and I am reminded of the despicable behavior of your business, particularly your son. Please know that I continue to circulate my petition regarding Toyota's racist practices and it has gone international. I promised myself to give you six months to garner the dignity to remediate this situation and my deadline is here.

    2. 5 months later and nothing

      Aurora Chang
      Petition Organizer

      So, the last communication I had with Ken's Toyota was through a "third-party" private investigator that Ken's Toyota hired. He took my information and never got back to me. Every day I have to drive past that business to go teach at the University of Wyoming, knowing good and well that the racism I endured (and continue to endure, this scar does not go away) fell to deaf ears. Toyota only talked to me but never came to any resolution.

    3. Toyota and Ken's Toyota Kars say they can't do anything about it

      Aurora Chang
      Petition Organizer

      Both Ken's Toyota Kars' owner and Toyota USA sent me separate emails indicating that they can't "corroborate" my story and therefore will not do anything about my complaint. Today, I received an email from a "third-party investigator" who claims to want to conduct "a fact-finding investigation into the incident involving you and your partner." I didn't find this supposed company anywhere on the internet. This is after I told Ken that I did not agree to a third party investigation. It looks like someone is getting scared and trying to cover their bases. I am working as an assistant professor, the semester has begun, and I do not have time to engage in this false gesture of neutrality. Toyota must meet my demands, period. Nothing short of that is acceptable. Please continue to spread the word. It's grassroots efforts like these that will ultimately make a difference.

    4. Reached 500 signatures
    5. NPR may pick up story but we need more support!

      Aurora Chang
      Petition Organizer

      I have been in close communication with a reporter of Wyoming Public Radio and she interviewed me regarding this incident and is doing her own investigative work on the matter. One of the dealership sales people needs to be courageous enough to corroborate our story. Otherwise, the story will go nowhere fast. I have hope that at least one person there will stand up.

    6. Some progress but we need to keep pushing!

      Aurora Chang
      Petition Organizer

      Since we've launched this anti-racism campaign against Toyota, I have received apologetic calls from:

      1.Ken, the owner of the dealership (he said he would also follow up with me after he does his own "investigation" next week)
      2. Charles
      Schultz, Assistant Regional Manager of the Toyota Denver Region (the initial one who heard my story - the "intake guy" who passed me on to #3)
      and
      3. Pat Piñeda, Latina VP of Philanthropy (that was the token racial call [Latina to Latina] to assure me that Toyota cares, lol) who called because the CEO was "on vacation."

      Words are simply ... words. None of my demands have been met.

      So, far, with your help, we have collected 321 signatures on https://www.change.org/petitions/stop-racist-practices-at-toyota-usa#.

      I am asking you for one more push - I will give it until the end of this coming week and present the CEO and dealership owner with the petition, signatures and comments.

      Thank you!
      Aurora

    7. Reached 250 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Debra Fustos RIVERTON, WY
      • over 1 year ago

      This is a disgrace to what America is suppose to stand for.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Lauren Seamans LARAMIE, WY
      • over 1 year ago

      The tolerance for racism in Laramie Wyoming needs to end.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Jessica Hunt LOGAN, UT
      • over 1 year ago

      racism at any level is unjust

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Shannon Jackson LARAMIE, WY
      • over 1 year ago

      While I appear 100% "white", I am multiracial.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Birgit Burke LARAMIE, WY
      • over 1 year ago

      I can't support this kind of behavior in this community.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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