U.S. Walmart stores will no longer lock up 'multicultural' hair, beauty products

A discriminatory Walmart practice is coming to an end after the company announced it would no longer be locking up “multicultural” hair care products.

The change came in the wake of a Black shopper in Colorado criticizing the chain store after a product she was hoping to buy was placed behind a locked case.

“The multicultural hair care is all locked behind the glass,” Lauren Epps told CBS Denver. “That’s so ridiculous.”

“I’m the kind of shopper who needs to look at things, read things. It’s awkward because you’re forced in the moment to grab it.”

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“People don’t realize what we have to go through on a daily basis.”

In photos shared by Epps, products made for people with textured hair can be seen behind locked glass with a sign telling patrons to ask for employee assistance.

When a staff member came to help her, they went to place her item inside a locked portable container.

She left without purchasing it.

“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,’” she told CBS. “They are saying that people who are a different culture need their stuff to be locked up.”

A Twitter user shared a photo of locked-up hair care products at a U.S. Walmart.

A Twitter user shared a photo of locked-up hair care products at a U.S. Walmart.

@jesusrodriguezb / Twitter

On Wednesday, Walmart released a statement on Twitter, saying it had “made the decision to discontinue placing multicultural hair care and beauty products in locked cases.”

Adam Grachnik, Walmart’s director of corporate affairs, confirmed to Global News that no hair care products are locked up in any Canadian stores.

The Twitter statement was in response to CBS Denver anchor Tori Mason, who tweeted that she went to a Walmart in Montbello, a neighbourhood in Denver, to buy a box of hair relaxer and the item was put into a locked box.

“I was one of the lighter customers in the store,” she tweeted.

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“This Walmart is in the heart of Montbello. There are black and brown people all over the place. 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.”

Many have taken to Twitter to share photos of Walmart locations they’ve been to where hair care products sold to certain demographics are locked up.

In two photos, Twitter user @jesusrodriguezb shows an aisle of products marketed traditionally to white people open for taking, while the “multicultural” products are behind glass.

Twitter user @ksmith5200 shared two images from 2018 showing concealer products for darker skin tones locked, while those for lighter skin tones were not.

She also shared her original tweet from two years ago, where she called out both Walmart and Maybelline for the discriminatory practice.

This has been an ongoing issue.

In 2018, California resident Essie Grundy sued Walmart, accusing it of racial discrimination after finding “hair and body products meant for African-Americans” locked away, CBS Los Angeles reported at the time.

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The same thing happened in 2019, when California resident Jasmine Saunders made similar accusations towards her local Walmart, per NBS News.

An action network movement called Making Change at Walmart can finally rejoice now that, after years, the store is finally making the change they’ve been calling for.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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