There’s a reason Black people had two distinct and opposing reactions to Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday last year. Some of us celebrated that this culturally Black thing that we have known about for at least the last couple of decades was now being recognized on a national level. Sometimes it’s just exciting to see Black things that were relatively obscure and confined to the culture become mainstream. You don’t really think about the downside, you’re just like, ” Oh wow—representation.”
But then there were those of us who immediately remember what the world of whiteness does to culturally Black things once they become cool—they get swept up in the Caucasian realm of “All culture matters…and it’s all ours now.” (See Black slang, Black vernacular, Tik Tok dances, virtually every popular American music genre and, currently, the word “woke.”)
So, it’s no surprise that a sizeable amount of social media chatter has had a less than welcoming reaction to an apparent ad floating around on social media that purports to show a Walmart brand red velvet and cheesecake-flavored ice cream flavor with a “Juneteenth” trademark.
Now, to be clear, we aren’t sure if this thing is even real. It doesn’t seem to turn up on any searches of Walmart’s line of Juneteenth-related products (and there are a lot of them). To be honest, the “Great Value” stamp does kind of lend weight to the idea that this might actually just be a very successful trolling campaign.
But whether it’s real or not, Black people’s reaction to it is definitely real, and, it appears many of us are displeased.
Obviously, this is bigger than just ice cream. This is about white-owned corporations trademarking Juneteenth. It’s about corporations commodifying a thing that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people.
I mean, what does Juneteenth mean in a country where every day is Columbus Day? (See what I did there?)
Remember that time Ikea got dragged for its Juneteenth menu that featured fried chicken, watermelon, mac n cheese, collard greens and yams? I’m just saying.
But what did we really think was going to happen once Juneteenth went federal? Are we actually surprised all these corporations that never even thought about offering a Juneteenth product line prior are suddenly seeing the same dollar signs slavers saw in the Black people they kept in chains in the first place?
Some people think Black people’s complaints about Walmart’s alleged ice cream is another instance of us never being satisfied. But, nah—white America made Juneteenth a federal holiday but buried the “What’s in it for us?” part in the fine print. Now, we’re seeing it all through a magnifying glass.