Walmart Will No Longer Put ‘Multicultural’ Beauty Products in Locked Cases

Walmart confirmed on June 10 that it will no longer keep “multicultural hair care and beauty products” in locked cases inside any of its stores.

The policy change was first reported by Tori Mason, a journalist with the CBS affiliate in Denver and confirmed by NBC News. The announcement comes after Mason shared a video of a shopper in Walmart’s hair-care aisle where products geared toward Black women were locked behind a glass case while shampoos and conditioners for predominately white women were not.

A representative for Walmart responded to Mason on Twitter, writing: “We serve millions of customers every day from diverse backgrounds. We have made the decision to discontinue placing multicultural hair care and beauty products in locked cases. This practice was recently in place in about a dozen of our 4,700 stores nationwide.”

In a more detailed statement to the New York Times, Walmart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez said, “As a retailer serving millions of customers every day from diverse backgrounds, Walmart does not tolerate discrimination of any kind.” He went on to say that similar to other retailers, Walmart locked up certain items to “deter shoplifters from some products such as electronics, automotive, cosmetics, and other personal care products.

“We’re sensitive to the issue and understand the concerns raised by our customers and members of the community and have made the decision to discontinue placing multicultural hair care and beauty products—a practice in place in about a dozen of our 4,700 stores nationwide—in locked cases,” he continued.

In February 2018, Essie Grundy, a Black woman living in California, filed a lawsuit against Walmart for racial discrimination, claiming the company was violating her civil rights by displaying Black personal care products in locked anti-theft cases. In an official statement, Grundy said she felt “angry, sad, frustrated, and humiliated all at the same time,” while trying to purchase beauty products three different times in one month—the last of which, she said, included a 48-cent comb. On her third visit to the store, she said, an employee accompanied her to the cash register where she wasn’t permitted to hold the comb on her own until she had paid for it. “I never want my children, or anyone else’s children, to experience what I did in Walmart that day,” she said in her statement.

According to the New York Times, court documents show that Grundy dropped the lawsuit in November. Her lawyer, famed women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, “would not say if there was a settlement in the case, which was voluntarily dismissed with prejudice—meaning it cannot be brought back before the court,” the Times wrote.

Allred told the Times “the matter was resolved.”

Grundy wasn’t the only one to raise issue with the practice of locking up Black hair-care products. In February 2019, Patricia Fulford told Glamour about her experience at a Long Island Walmart. “I went to where [my hair products] are usually kept, and I looked up and down the aisle for about a minute or so before discovering that they were in a case locked with a key,” she said. She eventually had to go find a manager after waiting for someone to come back with a key.

“In my neighborhood Walmart, you have to go find somebody, and then if they don’t have the key, they have to find somebody, so you’re just standing there waiting, sometimes for as long as 10 to 15 minutes,” Judah Bell told NBC News.

Many on Twitter expressed they were glad to finally see the change happening.

Although some felt it was too little too late. “You also need to remove the ONLY mini cameras that are RIGHT ABOVE multicultural hair products where you don’t have locked cases but still find a way to discriminate against POC in rural areas like State College, PA
@Walmart,” one shopper tweeted. “I stopped shopping at my at my local Walmart because of this. They put cameras by the Black hair care products. I don’t need to feel like a criminal buying deep conditioner,” another wrote.

Glamour has reached out to Walmart for further comment and will update this story accordingly.

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