Walmart Just Responded To The Backlash Over Its Juneteenth Ice Cream

News fatigue isn't just your imagination. In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) went so far as to recommend that individuals curb their news consumption if it causes distress, according to an article in the Athens Journal of Mass Media and Communications that has been made available online ahead of its July 2022 publication date. But sometimes, the 24-hour news cycle can work to society's advantage. We're referring to Walmart's response to the brouhaha which erupted when word got out of the launch of a new "celebration edition" ice cream flavor dubbed "Juneteenth" by Walmart's own Great Value brand. 

The June 19 holiday originated in 1865 in response to the abolition of slavery in the US and became a federal holiday in 2021 (via History). Judging from Walmart's statement to CNN, it appears that the ice cream launch was intended to demonstrate support of the Black community. Nevertheless, many on Twitter saw this product launch as an inappropriate exploitation of Juneteenth for commercial purposes — and, adding insult to injury, in a way that failed to endorse Juneteenth's values. So did others on various social platforms.

Well, thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, Walmart heard. And Walmart has now responded.

Walmart has apologized for selling its Juneteenth ice cream flavor

Walmart wasted no time in responding to the backlash over its Juneteenth ice cream, which many characterize as a white-owned corporate behemoth's distasteful attempt to capitalize on the holiday. The "Juneteenth holiday marks a celebration of freedom and independence," a Walmart spokesperson acknowledged in a statement (via CNN). "However, we received feedback that a few items caused concern for some of our customers and we sincerely apologize. We are reviewing our assortment and will remove items as appropriate."

By "assortment," Walmart is referring to a line of disposable party goods (spotted by comedian Roy Wood Jr. on Twitter) that name-check the holiday and utilize the same green, red, and black design seen on the Juneteenth ice cream that is generally understood to suggest alignment with African people. Nevertheless, Walmart's failure to collaborate with Black-owned businesses, not to mention Black minds in general, didn't go unnoticed. As another Twitter user put it, addressing Walmart directly and seemingly on behalf of other likeminded Black Americans, "LEAVE US ALONE! If you can't just promote black owned businesses for this holiday, don't even worry about [it]." 

Whether Walmart's statement will soothe the nerves of those the company offended remains to be seen. For the moment, Black Twitter seems unimpressed, particularly since Walmart hasn't yet addressed accusations on social media that its idea for the ice cream's red velvet and cheesecake flavor may have come directly from Black-owned brand Creamalicious — without appropriate credit having been given.