Walmart’s image was dealt three concurrent blows in 2012: a foreign bribery scandal in Mexico, a tragic factory fire in Bangladesh, and closer to home, the unflattering news that the company helped make the Newtown shooter’s assault rifle the most popular weapon in America
Though these scandals span multiple continents, they’re each marked by the company’s callous exploitation of people of color – the same communities it’s courting in its imperialistic expansion here and abroad.
Walmart has spent billions to rehabilitate its image and tout the benefits of its model to key allies in communities of color. But as recent news reports suggest, the company’s word cannot be trusted- nor can its commitment to minorities:
- In its overzealous campaign to expand into Mexico, Walmart flouted the country’s laws, and bought off its politicians. According to the New York Times, it used bribes to get what it wanted, and “circumvent regulatory safeguards that protect Mexican citizens from unsafe construction.”
- A horrific fire killed 117 workers at a Bangladeshi factory producing apparel for Walmart, after the company blocked potential life-saving factory upgrades and efforts to improve fire safety.
- No other company is more responsible for the scourge of handguns and semiautomatics on our streets than Walmart. The mega-retailer is the nation's largest seller of guns and ammunition, with no signs of slowing down – the Bushmaster AR-15 used in the Newtown shooting is on sale at 1,700 Walmart stores nationwide. Despite calls from elected officials, the company hasn’t changed its practices, despite several high-profile shootings having occurred with guns bought from a Walmart store, including the guns used in the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in Arizona.
Walmart’s willingness to trample on the human rights of brown and black workers, hurt our communities, and to even break laws just to make a few extra bucks isn’t my idea of an upstanding company. After all, even their high-priced PR campaign can’t explain away this: although Walmart is the largest employer of Latinos and African-Americans, we’re disproportionately represented in low-paying positions. People of color account for 36% of Walmart associates and only 16% of the company’s executives.
I’m demanding more from the world’s largest retailer- as the nation debates gun control, Walmart must show leadership by completely stopping the sale of semiautomatic rifles, assault weapons, and high capacity magazines in its stores. This is one way to stop these weapons from getting into the wrong hands that can inflict tremendous pain on our communities.
Thousands are already petitioning Walmart to stop selling and advertising assault weapons in local stores. I hope African-American and Latino leaders in communities across the country will join me in demanding the same and sign this petition.
To sign a petition demanding Walmart stop selling assault weapons, visit: http://www.change.org/