Walmart pulled back their Juneteenth-themed ice cream after facing backlash on social media. The department store advertised new merchandise, including party decorations and other items to celebrate the day.
However, customers questioned the store for profiting from a black holiday and trademarking the term "Juneteenth," an integral part of black history.
Walmart's Juneteenth ice cream criticized by social media users
Walmart launched a Juneteenth-themed ice cream in red-velvet flavor. The product was packaged in green, red, yellow, and brown, the official colors of Black History Month. It also had a version of the day's logo on the ice cream tub.
Chris Lovingood wrote to the brand enquiring about the trademark situation and how the products were helping the black community. He also found out that there were 32 trademarks filed for the term "Juneteenth," including Balchem Corporation.
Many questioned the intentions behind the product and thought that it was just a way for the company to earn a profit, with one user writing:
"Capitalism is a retail conglomerate, owned by a white billionaire family, marketing and ice cream to celebrate a holiday that commemorates the emancipation of slaves in a country that was literally built on the backs [of] slaves. See Walmart's ice cream."
Some questioned Walmart about how they planned to benefit their black employees on the day. They questioned whether the company would provide its black employees with the option of a "paid day off."
Some pointed out other black-owned companies that people could buy from instead of the ones promoted by Walmart.
The backlash led the company to pull the item off the shelves and issue an apology to everyone whose sentiments were hurt. They told a popular news station:
"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."
What is Juneteenth?
June 19, also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Black Independence Day, is a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States.
In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, ending slavery and freeing over three million enslaved people in the Confederate states.
However, it took two years for the situation to change in Texas. The black community in Texas found out about the news after Union soldiers arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865.
The following year, on June 19, 1866, African Americans in Texas celebrated the first Black Independence day, which later became the Juneteenth. The day became a state holiday in Texas in 1980, and after that, many other states started to observe the holiday.
In 2021, Biden declared the day a federal holiday, with numerous states celebrating it as a paid holiday. This year the holiday falls on a Sunday, so numerous institutions will celebrate it on the preceding Friday, June 17.