Wal-Mart Hearts the Caucasianally-Challenged

Posted by: on Mar 17, 2005 | No Comments

Wal-Mart’s race-baiting:

“Wal-Mart is working for everyone,” read the newspaper ad, which ran in January in more than 100 newspapers nationwide, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. “Some of our critics are working only for themselves.” The same day, the company launched walmartfacts.com, a website to counter criticism of the kind you may have read in this magazine. Along with some misleading information intended to make Wal-Mart’s wages and benefits sound much better than they are, the new campaign materials feature many smiling African-American faces; the website explains, accurately, that Wal-Mart is a “leading employer” of Hispanics and African-Americans.
As Jesse Jackson and other black leaders have pointed out in response to this boast, the slave plantation was once a “leading employer” of African-Americans as well. But this ad campaign was only the latest salvo in Wal-Mart’s fervent battle for the goodwill of black America, inspired by the difficulties the company is having as it tries to move into urban areas.
Wal-Mart spent more than $1 million on a PR campaign backing a voter referendum to build a Supercenter in Inglewood, California, where the majority of voters are people of color, and was decisively defeated last year. The company faces continued resistance in Chicago as well, where it has been trying to open stores in black neighborhoods. A Wal-Mart on that city’s West Side is scheduled to open by next February–to the frustration of those who opposed it–while plans for a South Side store have been scuttled. Controversy continues to rage about a Wal-Mart project in New Orleans, and in late February plans for a New York City Wal-Mart were scrapped in the wake of protests by labor, small business and neighborhood groups. Much of the opposition to the retailer has been led by activists of color. And, of course, since many people of color are poor, Wal-Mart depends on them as shoppers and as workers. It’s no surprise, then, that the company would be eager to appeal to racial minorities.

Fucking wonderful. Despite the “urban fear” of crime, drugs, and violence perpetuated by the Colorado Springs of the country, this is a fine example of how these communities refuse to be cowed by their labels and are coming together to protect their own. God bless ’em.

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