Walmart is facing accusations of racism after a video showing anti-theft tags on make-up products for people with a darker complexion at one of its retail outlets went viral on social media.
The video, originally shared on TikTok, was filmed at an unspecified location in Kentucky and is now being circulated across multiple platforms, including Twitter.
"I'm at my local Walmart and I'm just looking at the makeup section and I noticed this," TikTok user @alynicoletta says in the video before flipping the camera to reveal a shelf with beauty products on display, with security tags attached to the darker shades.
"I'm looking at the concealers and they are all normal, but then once you get down to the darker shades, they have little security tags all over them," the user adds. "But they don't for the lighter colors. So, Walmart, tell me that you're racist without actually saying that you're racist." Watch the video below:
The clip has garnered hundreds of thousands of views across all platforms and has sparked a debate among users with some calling for a boycott of Walmart for racially discriminating against black customers. "Racial profiling is morally repugnant! SHAME ON YOU! Boycott Walmart," wrote one user, while another commented, "This is disgusting! I'm never shopping at Walmart again."
Meanwhile, others defended the retailer's decision to use anti-theft measures on darker make-up products. "Does that make it racist or did they just identify the product that is ACTUALLY most frequently stolen and tag it?," wrote one user, while another pointed out, "If a retail store has data points/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.
Walmart Issues Statement
In the wake of the debate, the retail giant released a statement saying that the incident was being investigated while noting that security policies may vary between individual retail outlets.
"We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind at Walmart," a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement obtained by Newsweek. "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."
"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," the spokesperson added. "In this case, we are following up with the store to ensure those policies were followed properly."
Walmart Previously Accused of Locking Up Black Beauty Products
This is not the first time Walmart has faced allegations of racism for using anti-theft measures on products intended for an African-American audience. Last summer, when Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country, Walmart came under fire in the wake of a CBS Denver report in which a customer complained of multicultural hair products (made specifically for textured hair and designed for people of color) being locked behind a glass display while similar products aimed at white people were unlocked.
"If I want Suave or Tresemme or Pantene, it's out. The multi-cultural hair care is all locked behind the glass. That's so ridiculous," Lauren Epps, a Black woman who shopped at the store said at the time. "The message is clear: We don't trust you... And it's for what? Shampoo? There are bigger things that are happening in the world than people wanting to wash and cleanse their hair."
Days after the report, Walmart announced that it would no longer lock products sold predominantly sold to black customers at any of their retail locations. A discrimination lawsuit against the company over the same issue had been dropped during the previous year.