The greatest trick the Waltons ever pulled was convincing Southerners they were a family business operated by downhome folks who understood family values and the importance of community, all while replacing Main Streets across those rural communities with discount warehouses that exploit and underpay workers. That dual nature is once again on full display as Walmart attempts to play both sides of the Black Lives Matter movement, simultaneously taking down confederate flags at its Mississippi stores while selling blue and all lives matter tee shirts, ties, and underwear online.
According to the Washington Post, Walmart has announced it will no longer fly the Mississippi state flag, which features the Civil War-era battle flag image used by racists more than a century after the war to represent white supremacy.
“While the issue continues to be discussed, we’ve made the decision to remove the Mississippi state flag from display in its current form from our stores,” Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield recently told a trade magazine. But online, it’s a different story, as the company continues to sell All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, and even Irish Lives Matter gear alongside merchandise supporting Black Lives Matter.
Walmart Marketplace has a different business model than Walmart stores, the company is quick to point out. Online, the platform is open to third-party sellers, much like Amazon. The bulk of the all lives matter-themed merchandise is sold by a company called Old Glory, which alternately got the company in trouble with Trump supporters in 2018 for selling “Impeach 45" tee shirts on the same platform.
But superficially claiming support for a community while actively undermining it for profit has been Walmart’s business model for more than three decades. And pretending to bolster advocacy for tearing down monuments to racism while actively profiting from it is probably the most on-brand move Walmart could make right now.