Walmart is rescinding its policy of locking multicultural hair products, company says

·2 min read

A Colorado woman walked into her local Walmart to buy a scarf for her hair when she noticed something off in the hair care products aisle.

On one side, brands like Pantene and Suave were available to grab right off the shelf, but on the other, multicultural hair products were locked up inside a glass case, Newsweek reported. The woman took out her phone and started recording what she saw as blatant discrimination against people of color, according to Newsweek.

After Lauren Epps shared the video on social media, CBS Denver reporter Tori Mason found and shared the video, Newsweek reported. Since then, Walmart has said it would discontinue its policy allowing stores to lock up multicultural beauty products, according to NBC News.

“The multicultural hair care is all locked behind the glass. That’s so ridiculous,” Epps told CBS. “I’m the kind of shopper who needs to look at things, read things. It’s awkward because you’re forced in the moment to grab it. People don’t realize what we have to go through on a daily basis.”

The practice of locking up products for textured hair is seen at Walmarts across Colorado and nationwide, CBS Denver reported. Walmart shared a statement with CBS explaining that stores use “additional security” for products that have higher rates of theft, according to CBS Denver.

“As a retailer serving millions of customers every day from diverse backgrounds, Walmart does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. Like other retailers, the cases were put in place to deter shoplifters from some products such as electronics, automotive, cosmetics and other personal care products,” Lorenzo Lopez, a Walmart spokesman, told NBC.

Judah Bell, another Walmart customer, also questioned the practice and asked an employee why the store had the multicultural products locked up, NBC reported. The worker told Bell that those products had higher rates of theft but did not provide numbers proving that claim, according to NBC.

Walmart confirmed that the decision to add “additional security” was based on theft data, but the company would not share that information, NBC reported.

“It’s hard for a customer to dispute that, but predominantly African American people are buying those products, so the assumption is we’re thieves,” Bell told NBC. “I try not to shop anywhere where I’m assumed to be a thief.”