Black Twitter Denounces Big Brands for Commercializing Juneteenth

Black Twitter Denounces Big Brands for Commercializing Juneteenth

Large corporations that hoped to cash in on a litany of Juneteenth merchandise this year are instead facing backlash on social media.

Juneteenth commemorates U.S. General Gordon Granger and Union troops landing in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to inform enslaved African Americans that they were now free, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday last year. However, the commercialization of the holiday by large companies like Walmart and Dollar Tree has upset many Black Americans, who have taken their anger to social media.

Walmart gave Juneteenth the same holiday treatment it typically gives to Independence Day, labeling everything from paper plates and napkins to t-shirts with Juneteenth colors and quotes. The retail giant went as far as selling Juneteenth flavored (red velvet and cheesecake) ice cream. In turn, many Black Americans were angered by Walmart’s attempt to profit on a holiday that recognizes the end of more than 200 years of slavery and oppression and has largely been ignored by white America.  Additionally, many on social media pointed out that Walmart sells a Black-owned brand of ice cream that includes the same flavor.

The retail giant has since announced it would pull the ice cream from its shelves and apologized in a statement, however, the retail giant is still selling numerous Juneteenth-themed items.

Walmart wasn’t the only large brand accused of trying to profit off Juneteenth. Dollar Tree was also taken to task on Twitter for its attempt to profit off the holiday–something Matthew Delmont, a Dartmouth University historian, believes will lead to the holiday being watered-down and trivialized like other federal holidays.

“It is hard not to worry that Juneteenth will be watered down or distorted now that it is a federal holiday,”  Delmont told Yahoo Finance. “Having this date on the national calendar every year offers an opportunity to talk honestly about our nation’s history and to come together in community to celebrate the generations of Black Americans who have fought for freedom and equality.”

Dollar Tree has not responded to the social media backlash, but did delete tweets advertising and promoting Juneteenth products from its official Twitter page.