Walmart is removing “All Lives Matter” merchandise from its website in the wake of a social media backlash against the products.
In recent days, the retail giant has faced criticism for offering clothing with slogans similar to Black Lives Matter, including “All Lives Matter,” “Blue Lives Matter” and others, on its online marketplace. Social media users have criticized the slogans for diminishing or ridiculing the Black Lives Matter movement.
As of Tuesday afternoon, a quick search does not show any “All Lives Matter” merchandise. However, there are still “Blue Lives Matter” and “Irish Lives Matter” merchandise readily available.
“We fundamentally believe all lives do matter and every individual deserves respect,” the Bentonville retailer said in a statement. “However, as we listened, we came to understand that the way some, but not all, people are using the phrase ‘All Lives Matter’ in the current environment intentionally minimized the focus on the painful reality of racial inequity.”
The most recent Black Lives Matter protests, which have spread throughout the United States including in Arkansas, have been in response to multiple police-involved deaths, such as the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. However, the Black Lives Matter slogan dates back to the earlier part of the last decade – although the context is largely similar.
Black Lives Matter started as a hashtag in a Facebook post (#BlackLivesMatter) following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin in 2013, according to the Pew Research Center. As a social media hashtag, it did not immediately catch on – only appearing on Twitter 5,106 times during the latter months of 2013. Following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Miss. and the decision to not indict the officer involved in his shooting, the use of #blacklivesmatter skyrocketed, becoming a rallying cry.
According to a Pew Research Center study, tweets using #BlackLivesMatter are predominantly positive toward or support the Black Lives Matter movement. Studying the period from July 12, 2013 to March 31, 2016, researchers found that only 11 percent were negative and 12 percent were neutral through the Black Lives Matter movement. In contrast, the study found that tweets using the #AllLivesMatter hashtag were split almost evenly between positive and negative. During the same time frame, 33 percent of tweets using the #AllLivesMatter hashtag were critical of the All Lives Matter movement while 32 percent were in support.
In early June, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon announced that the company was pledging $100 million to build a racial equity center. According to McMillon, the center will be designed to support philanthropic efforts and initiatives that target the financial, healthcare, education and criminal justice systems in the United States.