Why Twitter Isn't Happy With Walmart's Juneteenth Ice Cream Flavors

The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed slaves in the Southern U.S., but it wasn't until the 1865 passage of the U.S. Constitution's 13th Amendment that slavery was abolished in the U.S. for good (via The University of Alabama Libraries). It took five years after that for the 15th Amendment to give Black individuals the right to vote as a matter of law, per U.S Department of Justice, and it took until the latter half of the 20th century before the government got around to abolishing segregation (via History). Even today, the specter of slavery still haunts many, but especially the many who remain painfully aware that racism continues to interfere with progress in this country (per Brookings Institute). Nevertheless, the federal government's recognition of Juneteenth — also known as African American Emancipation Day — as a national holiday in 2021, does represent a step forward. 

Observed for the first time in 1865, Juneteenth has become not only a celebration of African American freedom but also of Black achievement in general, according to the Juneteenth website, which characterizes the June 19 holiday as an opportunity for all people to come together to acknowledge the inequities of the past and to work together to shape a more progressive future. The trouble is that not everyone seems to have gotten the message, including, apparently, Walmart. The store has been receiving criticism online after releasing a Juneteenth-themed ice cream flavor.

Walmart stands accused of exploiting Juneteenth for profit

"Share and celebrate African-American culture, emancipation, and enduring hope," screams the label on the ice cream Walmart is releasing, purportedly in celebration of Juneteenth. By purportedly, we mean that Walmart's Great Value brand is releasing a red velvet and cheesecake-flavored ice cream under the name "Juneteenth," as The Shade Room notes on Instagram. Its packaging features green, red, and yellow stripes that suggest alignment with people of African descent, as well as a proliferation of celebratory and clasped cartoon hands in varying shades of well, not-white. So, yes, Walmart is clearly referencing the Juneteenth holiday in this promotion. But therein lies the rub, according to the many who are appalled that Walmart, a white-owned behemoth of a company, is exploiting Juneteenth for profit (per Black Enterprise).

But it's not just the commercialization of Juneteenth to which some object. It's also that the ice cream in question has nothing whatsoever to do with black culture and achievement — except in one uncomfortably ironic way. One Twitter user claims that Walmart's red velvet cheesecake flavor is an uncredited rip-off of a flavor pioneered by a hardworking Black small business owner. "I would prefer a black owned company profit off Juneteenth ice cream than Walmart of all companies," another Twitter user stated. If you're of like mind, here are 29 Black-owned ice cream brands available across the U.S., and if you're wondering, here's why red foods are a Juneteenth tradition.