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As the nation is set to honor Juneteenth For the first time on a federal level, there has been plenty of excitement. But there have already been a few spectacular fails from companies and organizations putting a stain on the day.
When Juneteenth was made an official federal holiday in 2021 by the Biden Presidential administration, many welcomed the move. Unfortunately, it’s cleared the way for some brands and organizations to ultimately lander the true meaning of the day in an attempt to grab some coin from the public.
As Juneteenth approaches this weekend, we’re going to take a look and shake our heads at a few fails that have already taken place.
1. Walmart’s “Celebration Edition” Ice Cream
Last month, the supersized retail chain released an ice cream flavor meant to honor Juneteenth through their Great Value brand. The “Celebration Edition”, is adorned with black and brown hands dotting a background of yellow, red, black, and green. “Share and celebrate African-American culture, emancipation, and enduring hope,” the label on the red velvet and cheesecake ice cream read. People were not amused, and the immediate backlash caused the chain to pull the ice cream from shelves. “Juneteenth holiday marks a celebration of freedom and independence,” a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
2. A Bad HALO Costume Name
Game developers 343i, responsible for the popular sci-fi series recently released a new costume for characters in the latest edition of the HALO series, Halo Infinite to honor Juneteenth. Only one problem – the in-game aesthetic is called “Bonobo”, which is also the same name as a species of apes. Given the well-documented history of racism in online gaming, the company quickly apologized and renamed it “Freedom”.
3. Dollar Tree
The discount chain caused a stir on Twitter last month when they posted an image of products in Pan-African colors as part of a line meant to celebrate Juneteenth (including headwraps. Yes, headwraps.) Dollar Tree did not issue any public comment, but it has discreetly scrubbed most of the posts advertising the line from its social media accounts.
4. Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
The museum had been preparing to host a “Juneteenth Jamboree” event in honor of the holiday. But one visitor, Jackson Moon, noticed something that was out of pocket in the museum’s cafeteria – a “Juneteenth Watermelon Salad”. “Racially insensitive salads,” Moon captioned their post on Facebook to the museum. “NOBODY BLACK ASKED FOR THIS!” After a barrage of comments, the museum issued a statement shortly afterward: “As a museum, we apologize and acknowledge the negative impact that stereotypes have on communities of color. The salad has been removed from the menu. We are currently reviewing how we may best convey these stories and traditions during this year’s Juneteenth celebration as well as making changes around how future food selections are made by our food service provider.”
5. States Slow To Recognize Juneteenth As a Paid Holiday
Despite the fact that Juneteenth was signed into law as a federal holiday, there are some states that have been reluctant to get on board and make it a paid holiday while 20 others have already approved it. Alabama recently did so, but only for this year. Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee failed to make it happen, due in part to their Republican-controlled state legislatures. Of course, these states still recognize holidays created to celebrate members of the Confederate Army.
6. An All White Panel of Judges For A Soul Food Contest
As much as it sounds like an episode of FX’s Atlanta, this really was about to happen. The Juneteenth Soul Food Festival and Market was slated to take place in Little Rock, Arkansas this coming Friday (June 17th). However, the flyer for the event featured a panel consisting of white people judging the soul food contest. The event would later be canceled after a heavy backlash online.