It didn’t take long for the internet to lash out once it got hold of Walmart’s way of commemorating Juneteenth.
Social media was ablaze with criticism after the images surfaced online of the company’s Juneteenth Ice Cream, which was “swirled red velvet and cheesecake flavored.” On the side of the carton was the quote: “Share and celebrate African-American culture, emancipation and enduring hope.”
Businesses are focused on profit in our capitalistic economy, so any chance to make money from a federal holiday is one that will always be taken. However, the most disturbing part is the company that makes the ice cream, Balchem, trademarked “Juneteenth” in 2021—the same year it was made an official federal holiday.
Because of Them We Can and CultureTags founder Eunique Jones Gibson noted although Balchem trademarked the holiday their company is far from diverse and inclusive:
“Perhaps they have a strong commitment to diversity & have pledged their financial support to the AA community as well? However there is no diversity amongst their leadership team. There are no Black leaders on their website nor are there any Black members on their board.”
In a company statement to Fox Television Stations, Walmart apologized for the item and informed the public they would be removing the ice cream from its stores:
“Juneteenth holiday marks a 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.”
The commodification of Juneteenth is reminiscent of the commodification of Kwanzaa in the 1990s. Apparently, all you need to do is give products Pan-African colors to know the holiday being celebrated is about Black people. Walmart is notoriously known for its products with poor quality/low prices for customers. It has also been critiqued for years for unlivable wages, inhumane working conditions and insufficient health care for its employees.