TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Walmart’s attempt to commemorate the Juneteenth holiday did not go over so well.
The retail giant released a new Great Value ice cream called “Celebration Edition: Juneteenth Ice Cream.” The “swirled red velvet and cheesecake” flavored ice cream’s label says “Share and celebrate African-American culture, emancipation and enduring hope.”
Shortly after the ice cream hit the shelves, “Juneteenth ice cream” was trending on Twitter, and the tweets weren’t pretty.
One person on Twitter compared this ice cream release to the Holocaust by saying “Can you imagine a company creating an ice cream flavor commemorating the end of the Holocaust? Companies should really think through how they recognize #Juneteenth.”
In the tweet, she also mentioned why its important to have diverse perspectives.
Philetha Tucker-Johnson, the President of the Tampa Bay Juneteenth Coalition weighed in on the controversy.
“What is Walmart trying to achieve here?” she asked. “Because they already have their logo, so why are you trying to capitalize off someone else and we aren’t talking reparations and we’re not talking giving back.”
Many feel as though Walmart’s efforts were tone-deaf and an attempt to profit off a holiday commemorating the day all slaves learned about the abolition of slavery.
Walmart also released several Juneteenth party supplies like party plates and cups. There were also napkins with “It’s the freedom for me” napkins.
“When someone takes what we have done all of these years to express who we really are and they take it to rewrite our narrative, that’s when it becomes a problem,” Tucker-Johnson said. “Now, I’m starting to question, what is your motive?”
WFLA reached out to Walmart. They apologized and issued this statement:
“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.”
WFLA asked Walmart the following questions:
- Are there any next steps from the company after pulling the Juneteenth ice cream and other merchandise products? How will the company learn from this?
- Did the company plan to give any proceeds from the Juneteenth merchandise to any organizations working toward uplifting the Black community and the advancement of Black Americans?
- Within the planning of this collection, what was the racial makeup of those who gave input? How many employees were Black?
- Are employees received paid time off or holiday pay in observance of Juneteenth?
Walmart did not answer any of those questions.
“I wish Walmart would have reached out to the national Juneteenth Observance Foundation to truly found out how to honor the holiday,” Tucker-Johnson said. “They should have also found a way to actually give back to the Black community instead of just profiting off our pain.”