Walmart apologises and pulls ‘Juneteenth ice cream’ amid backlash

Company ‘sincerely apologises’ for products marking federal holiday

Gino Spocchia
Wednesday 25 May 2022 10:32
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<p>Walmart apologised amid backlash for Juneteenth themed items</p>

Walmart apologised amid backlash for Juneteenth themed items

Supermarket behemoth Walmart has reportedly been forced into a U-turn over a Juneteenth-themed ice cream which some critics labelled as “the epitome of white supremacy in action”.

Twitter users complained about Walmart using Juneteenth, which falls on 19 June, to make money without other action to support Black employees and communities.

Among the items that caused alarm on social media were a red velvet and cheesecake flavoured ice cream with the word “Juneteenth” appearing next to a trademark. Other items included banners and stickers.

On Monday, Walmart said it will remove “Juneteenth” ice cream and was in the process of reviewing other items themed around the annual holiday marking the end of slavery.

“Juneteenth holiday marks a celebration of freedom and independence,” the company said in a statement to Fox. “However, we received feedback that a few items caused concern for some of our customers and we sincerely apologise. We are reviewing our assortment and will remove items as appropriate.”

The journalist Chris Lovingood, who brought the Juneteenth products to peoples’ attention on Sunday night, tweeted that he asked Walmart a list of questions.

Those included whether or not Walmart would be doing anything “for the Black community in honour of Freedom day (Juneteenth)”, and if Black staff members were consulted on the products.

While it was unclear on Tuesday if Walmart had addressed those questions, other social media users criticised the chain for its alleged insensitivity.

“I knew when they’d declare Juneteenth as a holiday it was just a bone being thrown at Black ppl in typical gaslighting fashion,” argued user Ekta Shah. “Walmart’s new action to trademark a Black American moment of historical significance is the epitome of white supremacy in action.”

US President Joe Biden made 19 June a federal holiday last year, with more than 800 private firms also pledging to give employees the day off.

Walmart, who is the country’s biggest private sector employer, told The Associated Press in an email last year that its employees were free to take any holiday, including Juneteenth, off with paid leave. The chain reportedly employs 300,000 Black hourly workers.

The supermarket said in a statement toThe Independent: “Juneteenth holiday marks a commemoration and celebration of freedom and independence. However, we received feedback that a few items caused concern for some of our customers and we sincerely apologize. We are reviewing our assortment and will remove items as appropriate.”

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