As consumers continue to hold large brands accountable for their role in upholding discriminatory policies, Walmart has confirmed that it will no longer lock up its selection of "multicultural hair care and beauty products" in display cases. The retail giant announced the change on June 10 shortly after a Black shopper criticized the practice in an interview with CBS Denver that has since gone viral.
Bath, body, and hair products made by brands with largely Black consumer bases are often locked up in glass cabinets at certain retailers, and with the rule in place, customers interested in purchasing them must get an employee to unlock the cases for them. As Lauren Epps told CBS, the policy — and the fact that more generic beauty products sit freely on separate shelves — criminalizes Black people and people of colour, implying they're more likely to steal.
"If I want Suave or Tresemme or Pantene, it's out," she said. "The multi-cultural hair care is all locked behind the glass. That's so ridiculous."
Epps continued, "I'm not going to be shamed into thinking I'm a criminal for just wanting to get a scarf. This is very blatant because the heading above that aisle says 'Multicultural Hair Care.' They are saying that people, who are a different culture, need their stuff to be locked up."
According to NBC News, Walmart claimed the policy was only in place "in about a dozen" of its 4,700 US locations, though that doesn't make it any less problematic. This is also the protocol for drugstore retailers like CVS and Walgreens, both of which have also been criticized. We've reached out to these brands to see if they too are reconsidering the approach.