Barbara Carroll feels like a victim of institutionalized racism.
The former assistant bank manager and probation officer, who also holds a PhD, was humiliated at a Wells Fargo bank branch simply because of, Carroll contends, the color of her skin, according to Miami Times News.
Last November, she walked into the Victoria Park branch of the bank in Fort Lauderdale to cash a $140 check. As is routine, the bank teller — a white woman — asked the 78-year-old Florida resident for her ID, which Carroll duly provided.
Despite this, the teller purportedly believing that the check was forged, told Carroll to sit in the lobby while the bank processed the check. After waiting for half an hour, Carroll felt unable to take the humiliation anymore, and asked to see the bank manager, also a white woman.
It was now that Barbara’s suspicions turned true.
The bank manager told Carroll that she could not return the old woman’s check or ID because she believed them to be forged documents. Appalled, Carroll said she would call the cops, which, to her surprise, had already been asked to step in by the manager herself.
So Carroll waited, hoping that the cops would put the teller and the manager in their place. She contacted the check writer, who reportedly confirmed that it was legit, but even that would not budge the bank employees.
After waiting a little longer, and seeing that no cops turned up, Barbara called 911 herself and explained her ordeal at the bank. A couple of cops turned up and told the bank teller and manager that the ID being carried by the black woman was valid. Hours after Barbara Carroll first stepped in the bank, she finally got her check cashed, but not without humiliation written large on her forehead.
She felt certain that the color of her skin had been the reason for the unfortunate episode.
“Things that we — and we being black people — things that we feel are sometimes brushed over, like, ‘Oh, she was just doing her job.’ It’s a difference, and you can sense the difference.”
In the months to follow, Barbara saw headlines about black people in the news cycle which were reflective of her own experience at the bank. Black Americans were being arrested or threatened with arrest for doing things like sitting in a Starbucks as Washington Post reported, barbecuing, visiting a neighborhood pool, and even for selling water in one instance. Barbara’s feeling of having been judged because she was black refused to go away, which finally led her to seek a lawyer.
Now with the help of Yechezkel Rodal, her attorney, Carroll has filed a lawsuit against the billion-dollar financial services company, asking Wells Fargo to apologize and compensate her for being racist. Wells Fargo spokesperson Rosanna Fiske said that the company was aware of the lawsuit and could not comment on ongoing litigation, but added that it was committed to “diversity and inclusion in our work force.”