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Over the past several months, more people have been using social media to call out brands and organizations for participating in and perpetuating systemic racism.
TikTok user Aly Nicoletta recently shared a short clip, claiming that her local Walmart in Kentucky had placed yellow security tags on makeup products for darker skin tones, while lighter shades of makeup were tag-free.
"OK, so I'm at my local Walmart and I'm looking at the makeup section," Nicoletta began, "And I noticed this: I'm looking at the concealers, and they are all normal. But then once you get to the darker shades, they have security tags all over them. So Walmart, tell me you're racist without actually telling me you're racist."
Racist Walmart in Kentucky puts security tags on just the darker shades of makeup pic.twitter.com/gMn7qCylZw
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) March 1, 2021
According to Walmart, policies are in place for each individual store to add additional security tags to numerous products to ensure availability.
"We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind at Walmart. We serve millions of customers weekly, crossing all demographics, and are focused on meeting their needs while providing the best shopping experience at each store," a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement to Yahoo Canada. "Like other retailers, we have policies and training in place that allow individual stores to add additional security for items such as electronics, automotive products, cosmetics and other personal care products to ensure they are available for sale to our customers. In this case, we have followed up with the store to ensure these policies were followed properly."
As the video began to pick up traction and circulate across social media, it raised questions of whether or not tags were placed intentionally on darker shades by an employee from that particular store or if Walmart has protocol which requires tags to be placed on only some of their products.
Viewers have flooded the footage with deeply divided comments. Although many took the footage at face-value, agreeing that this could have easily been interpreted as racism by the store, others have claimed that the reason certain products have security tags is because they are likely a frequently shoplifted item.
"I’ve gone to more than five Walmarts where they lock up all the Black hair care and makeup," one person tweeted. "You have to wait like 25-30 minutes to find somebody that has the key in order for you to pick out your item. Then the worker rushes you and walks your item up behind the register - but It cost $5."
When just a small picture shines a very bright light on the bigger picture. It’s so incredibly disturbing
— MissAneThrope (@AneThrope) March 1, 2021
"If there is data showing these products are stolen more often, then I’m fine with it. Few companies seek to increase product costs (security) on just a hunch," wrote another.
"This is dumb. If a retail store has data points or proof that a particular item is being stolen and/or is consistently going 'missing' they have every right to put a security tag on it. That doesn't mean they are racist," someone else sounded off.
If the item within the same line/brand, then all items of that brand should be security tag. I used to work retail and that's what we did. Your excuse is invalid.
— Michael Manios (@BruteMayo918) March 1, 2021
"I'll believe this when I see the statistics on stolen cosmetic products from that Walmart, until then I will staunchly believe that there is racism behind this decision," tweeted another.
Research has actually shown that white people over the age of 40 are most likely to shoplift. In a 2013 interview with NPR, professor Jerome Williams, who has carefully studied the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Database, said that although they aren't profiled the same as BIPOC, data shows that 70 per cent of shoplifting in the United States is done by white people.
"If you look at store shrinkage or loss, most of the loss is done by employees and not by customers," Williams explained. "And in some states where we've looked at the data, what we call the modal group that's most likely to shoplift is white women in their 40s and 50s."