Walmart apologizes for Juneteenth ice cream after Twitter backlash

Retail giant Walmart has launched new party wear and ice cream-flavored products to celebrate Juneteenth, the federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved black people in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865. The line will be revived for the first time in almost two and a half years. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth, also known as Black Independence Day, has been celebrated in the African American community for many years, but it was not made a federal holiday until 2021, when President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth National Independence Day. Only when it was signed into law.

Earlier this week, Walmart shoppers spotted a new line of Juneteenth party supplies, including Juneteenth plates, napkins, and drink koozies that read, “It's Freedom for Me.” Walmart also launched a special Juneteenth ice cream flavored with red velvet and cream cheese, advertised with copy that read, “Share and celebrate African American culture, liberation, and eternal hope.”

On Tuesday, photos and videos of Walmart's Juneteenth product display were widely ridiculed on social media.Some of the people who commented were comedians. daily show Correspondent Roy Wood Jr. tweeted, “Would you like some Juneteenth ice cream on a Juneteenth plate while drinking a beer at a Juneteenth Koozie?”

Walmart released a statement to FOX 7 Austin by Tuesday evening, writing: However, he expressed his sincere apologies for noting that some of the products had caused concern to some customers. We are reviewing our product lineup and will remove items as necessary. ”

One of the many ironies with which Walmart seeks to capitalize on Juneteenth is the Pan-African color scheme of its product lines. The Pan-African black, red, and green flag, designed by activist Marcus Garvey, was created to represent black liberation and anti-colonialism. Red symbolizes the blood shed through conquest, black symbolizes black people, and green represents black fertility. African continent. This has become increasingly evident in recent protests over the killing of black civilians by police.

And, as Kat Davis and Dorian Warren wrote in a 2020 NBC News op-ed, “from inadequate health insurance to poverty wages to insufficient paid leave, its policies are impacting Black lives.” While helping to build the foundation, Walmart cannot claim to be contributing to Black lives.'' Health and economic outcomes in Black communities are shockingly disparate. ”

They continued:

Black workers are disproportionately concentrated in lower-paying, non-management positions. And this is true across the vast retail industry, which has a population of 16 million people. The nation's largest retailers set the standards, which perpetuates inequality. Walmart has been accused of racially discriminating against Black employees and Black customers (Walmart has apologized for at least one similar incident) and pays employees of color significantly less than white employees. The company refuses to disclose whether the majority of workers are employed part-time or at low wages. position.

Walmart has a long history of labor exploitation, including paying subsistence wages (in 2021, it raised its minimum wage to $12 an hour). In early 2020, the company rolled out a restructuring program that was touted as creating more full-time positions, but also eliminating roles and imposing a huge workload on remaining employees. Criticized. Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, has grown economically during the coronavirus pandemic. new york times The report states, “During fiscal year 2020, the company generated $559 billion in revenue, an increase of $35 billion from the previous year. But labor activists say too little of that money is earmarked for workforce protections. They claim the pandemic is dragging on.”

Under current time-off systems, hourly full-time employees “earn” paid time off (PTO) and are financially rewarded for good attendance. In January 2022, Walmart halved paid leave for employees who tested positive for the coronavirus. Part-time hourly workers do not receive paid maternity leave. According to Bloomberg, “Blacks and African Americans made up 28 percent of all new hires in the United States.” [in 2020-21]accounted for 13% of promotions from hourly to managerial positions, according to the company's latest diversity report. ”

Walmart, which seeks to profit from marketing Juneteenth (a holiday that symbolizes black strength and the day whites were unable to enact widespread emancipation at the end of the Civil War), is trying to capitalize on bad corporate practices. This is one example. It's easy to adopt slogans and flashy colors while waiting for money to come in. Being called out for your shit and expected to correct years of mistreatment of marginalized employees? That's “work” for me.

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