Mega-retailer Walmart has encountered protest and poor publicity in its recent offerings of Halloween costumes this season. A few days ago, the national chain was heavily criticized for selling inappropriate costumes that sexualized young children, including a “Naughty Leoapard” outfit that was then pulled from shelves.
A discovery by Twitter user @naunihalpublic brings to light another “costume” being offered by Walmart (pictured above), this time seeking to profit from racist stereotypes.
The “Turban Beard Adult Halloween Instant Costume” comes complete with a “Strap-on beard with white turban.” The model in the ad wears a military-style coat and bears a menacing expression — clearly this costume is meant to portray the terrorist stereotype. A pretend Middle Eastern or South Asian accent is not included.
Perhaps someone at Walmart finds this humorous, but this product offering is extremely inappropriate and can only be seen as coming from a place of malicious intent. Akin to “blackface,” the costume is offensive, particularly since it is exploiting stereotypes that have dangerous consequences. It was not even a week ago that a turban-wearing Sikh man in New York was beaten in an apparent hate crime in New York, and we are barely one year past the the mass shooting of Sikhs at the Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Whomever is responsible at Walmart for approving such costumes is clearly incompetent, at best. Walmart must remove this product immediately and offer an explanation for their complete display of poor judgement in this racist product offering.
The Sikh Coalition has contacted Walmart requesting the removal of the product, which since has been appearing “Out of Stock” in some markets:
Be sure to check the Walmart website to see if the product is still available in your area, and if so, call the number listed above to request that the product be permanently removed.
The product is also being sold on the online retailer Amazon website. The Sikh Coalition has also reportedly been in contact with Amazon as well, however you can share your thoughts about the costume with Amazon here.