The Associated Press reports that Walmart has decided to pull from its stores a new special edition ice cream that commemorated the new Juneteenth federal holiday that observes June 19, 1865, the day on which Union soldiers informed enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, that the Emancipation proclamation - two and a half years earlier - had freed the slaves.
"Juneteenth holiday marks a celebration of freedom and independence," the company said in a statement. "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."
Here's how Black Enterprise characterized the outrage:
"As Juneteenth approaches, social media is spiraling regarding rumors about Walmart’s release of a 'celebration edition' ice cream to highlight the federal holiday. Folks are outraged deeming this move racist and exploitative.
"The Juneteenth ice cream features a swirled red velvet and cheesecake flavor. The carton shows an image of two Black hands with a yellow, green, red, and black background. The major retailer left consumers with a message on the container that reads, 'share and celebrate African-American culture, emancipation, and enduring hope.'
"Twitter users are displeased with Walmart’s audacity to even trademark the national independence day that commemorates the end of slavery for all Black people. One user called it 'gentrification'."
- KC's View:
If I'd been in the room, I'm not sure that I would've flagged this as a bad idea … but I do think that I would've looked around the room to make sure that there were people there with a better sense of it than I would. I don't think Walmart had anything but the best intentions (and certainly the hope that it was going to sell more ice cream). But we all have to recognize that there are thing that we do not know, and cannot know. Once one accepts the idea that there is a hole in one's frame of reference - and we all have them - it becomes a lot easier to ask questions and listen to the answers.
At the very least, people have to be sensitive to the idea that while Juneteenth is celebrated as Black Independence Day, the day it recognizes, in 1865, came 89 years after what I suppose could be called White Independence Day.