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Zendaya says grocery clerk hassled her because of her 'skin tone' during gift-card purchase

Zendaya says grocery clerk hassled her because of her 'skin tone' during gift-card purchase
Zendaya says she experienced racism at a Southern California grocery store. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images)

Zendaya says a grocery store clerk hassled her over a $400 gift-card purchase — and she and a friend got the vibe that their skin color had something to do with it.

The "Spider-Man: Homecoming" star said Tuesday that she understood there were rules and limits with buying gift cards and had agreed to purchase a lower amount than she'd planned, but noted, "The lady that was helping us, I don't think she was a huge fan of our skin tone."

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A Vons spokesman said Wednesday that those rules and limits were the issue, not race.

The clerk was rude, the 20-year-old and her guy friend said on Snapchat in multiple videos that appeared to be shot from the parking lot of the store Tuesday.

"In fact, I recall her not trying to help us at all, saying that we couldn't buy the gift cards, and then throwing my wallet ...," Zendaya said. "This is what we deal with."

"Because we're black," her friend added from the driver's seat of the parked car they had gotten into.

"She literally ... she was like, 'You can't afford this,' is how she looked at me," Zendaya continued in upbeat disbelief. "It was $400. Four hundred dollars! … Long story short, there's so much progress to be done in our world."

Some progress was apparently made before they left the store: "Shout out to the manager for coming and helping," the former Disney Channel star said in her final Snap from the parking lot. "Got my gift cards."

"There is a policy that limits gift card purchases using a credit card," Vons spokesman Carlos Illingworth told The Times a statement acknowledging "Zendaya's voice in the community" and noting that she'd been able to buy cards up to the company's limit.

"We understand that race is a sensitive issue in America," he continued, "and view this experience as a reminder that every interaction is an opportunity to treat each customer as we ourselves would like to be treated."

Follow Christie D'Zurilla on Twitter @theCDZ.

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UPDATES:

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1:05 p.m.: This post was updated to include a statement from Vons.

This story was originally published at 8:45 a.m.

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