Walmart apparently doesn’t vet its vendors too well, and the latest fiasco involves a weave cap with a color description that incorporates the n-word.
Social media was appalled after noticing that the color description included the racial slur “nigger brown.” The photo was first spotted by Twitter user Kwani Lunis and began to unfold from there:
By midafternoon Monday, the description was changed and Walmart had issued a statement: “It is a clear violation of our policy and has been removed, and we are investigating the seller to determine how this could have happened.”
But the story doesn’t end there. Jagazi Naturals’ owner, Chizo Onuh, a 39-year-old based in London, told the New York Daily News in an interview that she couldn’t believe the messages she started to receive from people blaming her for the word appearing in the ad, even though her product was offered through a fake vendor.
“Considering the fact that I’m a black woman from Nigeria, what really pains me is that I get these emails from other black people who are in pain because of that word,” she said.
On Onuh’s own site, she states that she’s taking action because of the blatant bootlegging of her product: “Please beware that we are reporting this to as many people as we can and trying to get all the listings pulled down. The real Jagazi is a 100% black company for black people. People have often used our brand name to try and sell their fake products. Please be aware. Very sorry for all the distress this has caused. We are feeling the pain here as well. Most shocking!”
And that could be a part of a bigger issue when it comes to small online businesses that have their products stolen and ripped off. Onuh stated that plenty of other e-commerce sites, like Wish, have taken her products and made a profit from them.
Two years ago, The Root profiled jewelry designer Rachel Stewart after her designs started popping up on sites like Alibaba and AliExpress.
“It went from once or twice a year to every week I’m getting emails about some Instagram boutique or event vendor selling my jewelry. I’m a seller, but also a consumer, so I understand the desire to get a deal on an item you see online; I do it, too. So when someone sees my work for less than half my price, who do you think is gonna get paid? Whether the buyer knows it’s a knockoff or not, the fact is, I make no money,” Stewart said in an interview.
So, not only is Walmart not vetting its vendors properly, but the company is apparently also allowing others to profit off someone else’s work. Walmart seems to be no better than the Facebook ads you see with clothing, priced cheaply, that looks vaguely familiar. And then one simple Google Image search shows you that the products are typically ripped off from people’s Etsy pages and other high-end stores.
Maybe one day Walmart will improve its vetting process, but in all likelihood, it probably won’t.