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.
Feel free to express your outrage about this product on Walmart’s review section here. You can also share your opinion about this item using Twitter and Facebook.
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.
I made a bee line to the local Wal*mart which is situated among localities having a large Desi population and eye-scanned the shelves. I did not see the articles in question, so I marched over to the Customer Service desk and pull out the smartphone. The lady at the desk was from South Asia and I showed her this e-mail. She started commenting in what I could describe as a dismissive tone:
“Oh, that is the Sikh people, the religious people…”
I said to her to the effect that this product can only serve to reinforce the disperception in Gora minds of those of South Asia and the Middle East. I had to remind her that the locale has the greatest concentration of Pakistanis in the USA next to a township that has a large percentage of those from India.
She finally agreed with me and said that she would inform the manager on the matter.
I clicked on the link to Amazon and got this message:
“We’re sorry, but this item is currently not eligible to be reviewed.
Most items can only be reviewed after their official release date..”
I’m not sure what that means
Sounds like a half-answer. Follow up is the key.
Pingback: Walmart pulls turban/beard terrorist costume | American Turban