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Social Distancing at Walmart

Source: Boston Globe / Getty

Walmart made an announcement today that they will no longer place personal care items and products for black people, in anti-theft locked cases. The retail giant had come under heavy scrutiny as they were accused of keeping products that were commonly purchased by Black people, in cases that were locked so as to prevent theft. Unironically, the comparable generic products located nearby were unprotected.

This practice was the focal point of a federal discrimination lawsuit that was filed by a California woman. Essie Grundy sued Walmart because she found herself always having to ask a store employee to unlock beauty supplies on three different occasions, even when she wanted to buy something as innocuous as a $0.50 comb.

With the reinvigoration of the Black Lives Matter movement because of the killing of George Floyd, there is a lot of pressure being put on big stores to end practices they believe are harmless, but are indeed racist. As a result of this pressure, Walmart has agreed to remove the products from security cases in stores throughout the country.

“As a retailer serving millions of customers every day from diverse backgrounds, Walmart does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. 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,” Walmart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez told NBC News.

Walmart isn’t the only company being accused of racial profiling. Anthropologie has been accused of internally using codename “nick” to address and monitor black people when they entered the store, and adidas is calling for corporate change too.

Consumers who are active in seeking social justice are calling mass retail stores to support more Black talent being on their leadership and executive teams, along with being conscious and diverse in the types of brands they carry.