In the wake of the George Floyd protests, attention has been given to racist practices not just in policing, but in other areas of daily life, such as in certain businesses. Some of those practices may have even escaped notice by people who are not themselves racial or ethnic minorities.
One such instance is that of retailers keeping beauty supplies behind locked cabinets.
As NBC News explained in a 2019 report, Walmart was sharply criticized for the policy, although it seems many beauty stores took the same actions regarding the products.
At the time, Patricia Fulford, an African American woman, had posted a photo on Facebook that showed beauty products intended for black women kept under lock-and-key. She suggested that Walmart was sending the message that white women could get their beauty supplies directly off the shelf, while women like her had to wait for an associate to open the cabinet.
“Why do we as black peoples have to ask to get shampoo or moisturizer and all other ethnicities can just go and get their hair products off the shelf?” she asked in her post, noting that, in her case, she had to wait 10 minutes for an associate to unlock the cabinet. Further, the associate, rather than giving Fulford the product she wanted, took it to a cashier.
In keeping the products behind locked doors, and in an associate taking it directly to a cashier, the message was being sent that black women were more likely to steal products intended for them. Fulford said a store associate admitted that such products were stolen more frequently.
The products behind the cabinet ranged in price from under a dollar to upwards of $25 or more.
Now, CVS and Walmart will both stop keeping such items behind locked doors.
In a statement, CVS claimed that keeping such beauty products locked up was never intended to be done from a place of racial discrimination.
“We have a firm-nondiscrimination policy that applies to all aspects of our business and our product protection measures have never been based on the race or ethnicity of our customers,” the statement read in part.
Another major retail pharmacy chain, Walgreens, has also stated it will no longer be keeping its beauty products aimed at ethnic minorities behind locked cabinets.