Last week, Walmart appeared to be gearing up to release its Great Value brand “Celebration Edition Juneteenth” ice cream in honor of the newest federal holiday. But after much backlash on social media, the retail giant announced that they would no longer be moving forward with the controversial rollout.
According to CNN, Walmart announced it was reviewing its product offerings.
“Juneteenth holiday marks a celebration of freedom and independence,” a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday, according to CNN. “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 swirled red velvet and cheesecake ice cream was reportedly slated to come packaged in a yellow, green, and red container reminiscent of the Pan-African flag. The oddly designed product also featured two Black hands high-fiving each other.
“Share and celebrate African-American culture, emancipation and enduring hope,” the label on the ice cream read.
Social media reacts to Walmart’s Juneteenth ice cream
Many social media users called out the mega-corporation for attempting to commercialize and weaken the message behind the commemorative holiday. Juneteenth, which originally fell on June 19, 1865, celebrates the day that enslaved African Americans were freed.
Other people criticized the white-owned brand for profiting off of Black suffering.
“I never celebrated Juneteenth being made a national holiday. I knew it was pure mockery,” wrote one person on Twitter. “America has mastered the science of commercializing our pain. The ice cream was just a test run. Next, they’ll be selling Juneteenth whip & chains in the toy department. They are who they are!”
CNN noted another critic slammed the company on social media about the perceived lack of “diverse voices at the table when making strategic business decisions.” ” When you don’t, you end up making costly, foolish mistakes,” they added.
Although the company is recalling the problematic ice cream, Walmart still appears to be selling a number of Juneteenth-inspired items including party supplies, plates, T-shirts and books. A NewsOne staff member spotted a full Juneteenth display at a Walmart in Decatur, GA while picking up some household basics.
Sadly, Walmart isn’t the only big American company attempting to cash in on the historic holiday. As previously reported by Yahoo! Finance, Dollar Tree also faced backlash for promoting their Juneteenth-inspired decorative line of party supplies and tableware featuring Pan-African colors. However, the items appeared to have been scrubbed from the website since.
Last year, President Biden signed a law making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
“This is a day of profound wait and profound power,” he said during his speech. “A day which you’ll remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take.”
Vice President Kamala Harris echoed Biden’s sentiment, noting how the national holiday “makes an important statement.”
“These are days when we as a nation have decided to stop and take stock, and often to acknowledge our history,” she added.