I became instantly outraged by a disturbing post I recently read by a fellow blogger, Liz Brazile, concerning Walmart’s loss prevention policy of locking up African American hair products at one of its stores in Perris, CA.
But is my outrage justified? And what is it exactly that I’m outraged about?
I mean, let’s face it, this story isn’t what one would consider, according to mainstream media standards, to be newsworthy. There was no White on Black violence, bloodshed, or killing involved. Even when it first happened weeks ago, the incident was a viral blink on social media. It was just Walmart simply taking action because obviously the AA hair products in that particular store were being stolen.
So, what’s the big deal?
The BIG DEAL is that it’s NOT OKAY for the retail giant to disrespect the many honest, hardworking African American consumers by having them seek out a store employee to unlock the protective glass that houses their specific brand of hair products. While their non-Black counterparts are free to shop sans the protective glass for hair products without being treated like crooks. The BIG DEAL is that it’s NOT OKAY to disregard the dignity of a 43-year-old Black mother of five, Essie Grundy, by
perp-walking escorting her to the cash register to pay for an item she wasn’t even allowed to carry herself.
I’m outraged because I see this incident as a more modern, covert version of Jim Crow, a microcosm of the discrimination African Americans continue to confront in this country on a daily basis. It’s nothing new to us but it is newer. Separate and unequal dressed up as diverse and inclusive. That we should put away our race cards and just be happy that Walmart even bothers to sell hair products that address our unique ethnic needs.
I don’t think so.
And it’s a shame that Walmart is willing to go to court to defend its policy (a policy largely defended by gaslighting tweets on Twitter) rather than find a less racially insensitive method for securing its AA hair merchandise. That the shopping chain juggernaut would choose to help perpetuate long-held, negative stereotypes that mischaracterize all African Americans as thieves and born criminals is disturbing. Evidenced by the following more overtly bigoted tweet which was just one of many (both cryptic and subtle) echoing the racist vitriol of times past:
Essie Grundy isn’t looking for some huge financial settlement, according to her lawyer, Gloria Allred. At the most, they’re looking at a little less than five large if they win their lawsuit against Walmart. What Essie Grundy wants is an apology and for the protective glass housing the AA hair products to be removed. But apparently, that’s not possible in the new era of Jim Crow 2.0!