Walmart has been the scapegoat of liberal documentaries and left-wing protests targeting its anti-union efforts, employee wages, and rock-bottom prices. So, it’s strange to see members of the Walton family, whose patriarch Sam Walton founded the company, recently taking a leftward turn. After a legacy of supporting conservative candidates and causes, some Waltons, especially those in the younger generations, are backing the Left.
That’s not to say that employees or owners of Walmart shouldn’t be allowed their own political views; it’s just paradoxical to support ideas that end up hurting their core business and customers. Walmart’s corporate culture also appears to be shifting leftward, focused on gender and racial quotas and creating employee curricula that integrate parts of “critical race theory,” a divisive concept that erodes trust between racial groups. These moves especially risk backfiring with a Walmart consumer base that serves Middle America and many other conservative areas.
Vice President Kamala Harris recently agreed with Sen. Tim Scott that America is not a racist country—an important statement from such a historical figure as the first black and female vice president, and I applaud her for making it. Yet, Harris and other liberals are pushing the concept of “equity,” which is basically a code word for “equal outcomes,” also known as “socialism.” Walmart is also now focusing on “equity” through “a five-year, $100 million philanthropic commitment to create a new Center for Racial Equity.”
It’s certainly important to report history accurately and not shy away from teaching the truth about America’s history of vile, racist policies such as slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and redlining, though shareholders might question if this is really the role of the retail giant. Yet, people also need to learn about the many triumphs and successes of America’s civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and those hundreds of thousands of white Northern soldiers who gave their lives to end slavery—even though it didn’t personally affect them.
And it’s important to track how, as African American writer Jason Riley says in the Wall Street Journal, race relations in America are, in many ways, better than ever. Riley notes that “racial attitudes have been trending toward more tolerance for well over half a century” and that intermarriages are showing rapid growth, facts that “undermine the notion that racial bigotry in America is a growing problem.”
Riley reports about a study showing “police killings of African-Americans declined by 60%-80% from the late 1960s to the early 2000s and have remained at this level ever since.” And he also notes, “According to a Washington Post database, police shot and killed 999 people in 2019, including 424 whites and 252 blacks. Twelve of the black victims were unarmed, versus 26 of the white victims. In a country where annual arrests number more than 10 million, if those black death totals constitute an ‘epidemic’ of police use of lethal force against blacks, then the word has lost all meaning.”
And to the extent Walmart pushes for a culture of equal outcomes, it is contributing to the rising popularity of socialism. Socialism has been tried and failed with heartbreaking results (including among countries that are majority people of color) around the globe, and it tears at the fundamental American principle of equal opportunity.
People across the country, including shoppers, overwhelmingly reject this, according to new polling from Harvard-HarrisX, which asked, “Do you think America is about achieving equal opportunity for everyone or providing equity to racial groups to make up for past discrimination?” They overwhelmingly chose equal opportunity over equity (72% to 28%).
Ben Carson, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development and a renowned neurosurgeon, rightly described this shift from equality of opportunity to equity this way: “[I]nstead of pursuing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ideal of judging people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, equity would reward and punish people because of the color of their skin.”
Walmart was a staple of my childhood—the economic miracle allowing my mother to feed and clothe eight children on a razor-thin budget. I’ve been pro-Walmart as it has been attacked in various false claims by liberals. (Here’s one I swatted down: the idea that the company is subsidized by government welfare payments to workers.)
I’ve supported Walmart as it fought bureaucracies in India, a high-poverty country whose people could benefit greatly from Walmart’s low prices. Walmart’s benefits for struggling families were shown by economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the U.S. Department of Agriculture who found that Walmart’s low prices give “substantial” benefit to consumers and that low-income households “benefit the most.”
Walmart has provided important opportunities for shoppers on a budget and for people seeking employment opportunities, especially when starting out in the workforce. Instead of focusing on race and the divisive concept of equal outcomes, Walmart should defend its legacy and commitment to providing good value and opportunities for everyone, regardless of their background.