One positive outcome of the protests surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd is the fact that we’re now more than ever becoming sensitized to any implications of racism, and unwilling to turn a blind eye anymore once we notice that something is glaringly wrong. Even the smallest of actions may be sending a message, and not only individuals but corporations are realizing that we’ve all got to be a lot more careful about exactly what it is we are saying.
One such instance of a very wrong message being sent has seemingly been flying below the radar for years: At Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, CBS News reports that hair care products for African-Americans have been kept under lock and key like higher-end electronics and similar items. When hair products meant for Caucasians are sitting out on the store shelves, just what is Walmart trying to say here? What Walmart may have been saying by restricting access to these hair products is something we, as a nation, are no longer willing to hear or condone.
Walmart will no longer restrict access to multicultural hair products
Just how wrong Walmart’s haircare policy is has actually been brought to the company’s attention several times before. CBS Los Angeles reported on a local woman who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit in 2018 when she had to seek assistance to buy a hair product. While some natural hair products can be pricey, the item she wanted to buy — and needed someone to unlock a case so she could have access to — was a comb costing 49 cents. A 2019 Ebony article also called out the retail giant for racial profiling, and there have been a few petitions circulated over the years calling on Walmart to end haircare discrimination.
Walmart tried to defend their policy to CBS MoneyWatch, saying “Like other retailers, the cases were put in place to deter shoplifters from some products such as electronics, automotive, cosmetics and other personal care products,” but CBS News reports that as of June 9, they will no longer be including hair care products in this high-security category. All of the stores that had been following this practice (which they claim to have been only about a dozen out of their 4,700 locations) should immediately cease and desist. Okay, Walmart. An apology might have been nice, too, but at least you’re finally doing the right thing. Not insulting your customers, that’s basic business 101. And resisting racism wherever it rears its hideous head… that’s just basic humanity.
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