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Walmart is engaging in outright racism. This is the case in spite of the fact that a large clientele of theirs is Black and other minority groups, and a number of Blacks are employed there right alongside the overt and daring-do promotion of Duck Dynasty. Walk into their store and in their main entryway, no less, is a blatant display of four of the show’s characters on big screen TVs. Further down that entryway aisle is an out-in-front display of their characters’ shirts and in front of the post card section along that same thoroughfare are Duck Dynasty character portrait greeting cards (of the large size variety, to boot). It is all an obvious in-your-face assault on Blacks in particular.
It is an anomaly in the sense that Walmart seeks to in effect push the racist show up by promoting it whereas viewership of the program is dramatically down, or as Huffpost puts it, “Fans no longer give a quack” about it. Incidentally, others such as the Koch brothers also wage perpetual ideological battles alongside crass, material assaults on minority groups and workers in society. Other business interests yanked Robertson and then promptly rehabilitated him, and they are in effect likewise accepting someone with racist statements.
Phil Robertson, the show’s patriarch, said recently that Blacks when he was growing up had no need to sing the blues, essentially implying that Blacks were a happy lot. The latter point was not quite in reality the case about their condition, and in regard to the “blues” it shows his historical ignorance, in the sense that Blacks basically originated much of the blues music to express “blue” (unhappy) themes in their lives.
It is not a mistake or an oversight of Walmart’s. As a side note, for all we know this may be Walmart clamoring to roar back into the ideological sphere after their darling Miley Cyrus, whom they were promoting a few years ago likewise throughout the store as they do now with Phil Robertson and his Duck Dynasty, is well, shall we say, not what Walmart would promote anymore, she is not the corporation’s innocent poster child any longer, obviously.
It should be clear that there is no new-born or sudden interest in duck hunting, yet Walmart and others urge millions of customers to get on the band wagon through the purchasing of such paraphernalia in the store aisles of this character spouting racism. In fact at Walmart there had not been in recent history the Robertson effect, until more so after his racist statements, regardless of whatever other statements he had or is now making. It was primarily after he made such statements, including the homophobic ones, that there is the emergent interest engendered by his corporate supporters, that is, supporters of such statements. Imagine the illogical situation if there were corporate support of the Klan because it would be claimed that the Klan may do or say other non-racist things as well (in fact they even adopt-a-highway section sometimes for collecting trash, etc., among other things), but an effort is made to untwist the Robertson pretzel and tout it as logical.
In times like these and under like circumstances, boycotts have been warranted. It is a simple process of the NAACP and others calling a press conference and with a few brief sentences initiating a boycott of Walmart and other Robertson business establishments endorsing his racism. This can ignite a prairie fire across the country and perhaps some sort of rout of Walmart in terms of what it stands for, not to mention, that is, other problematical and well-known aspects of the behemoth, such as gender (the women’s lawsuit) and worker issues (notice the recent leak regarding the company’s directives to its managers on how to confront and deal with union organizing), the latter exemplified also by assaults on workers by McDonalds noted recently in its website advice for its employees. Otherwise, Walmart is proverbially laughing all the way to the bank with rank racism. It must be kept in mind, though, that boycotts can most definitely make a difference in the pocket books of such entities, companies and manufacturers of Duck Dynasty products.
Martin Luther King led boycotts that changed society. It is said nowadays that there is a resurgent activism across this land of ours. We’ll see what transpires and if it is going to be our world or a Walmart world.
Jose Martinez, Ph.D., is a university professor in the social sciences.