Wal-Mart is in trouble once more. It’s hard to believe that a simple discount store can continue earning so much non-stop condemnation. But then, when self-righteousness comes in a modern, Politically Correct variety, one need not be so surprised.
This time, Wal-Mart is getting hammered for the very practice that made them famous in the first place; selling an item at a lower cost. The specific piece of merchandise is as familiar and as endearing as apple pie; Barbie. Why all the fuss over a mere doll? Because Wal-Mart sells more than one type of doll. Now, black Barbies are offered on the shelf, right next to white Barbies. Why exactly should this be considered a problem? Well, it seems the black Barbie is cheaper. Ouch! What’s up with that?
Before Wal-Mart could even explain, Civil Rights groups started condemning this horrific mark down, deciding ahead of time that no explanation could possibly provide any legitimate damage control. Wal-Mart has been dubbed a racist store.
Let’s back up and catch our breath. Yes, upon first glance, the idea of a cheaper black doll looks nutty at the very least and possibly racist. But can we at least take a moment to hear Wal-Mart out? They did offer a reason. They insisted the black Barbie wasn’t selling. They lowered the cost for the same reason they would discount any other item that wasn’t selling. Was this a wise decision in light of today’s political thunderstorms? Of course not. Perhaps the Wal-Mart managers are not the sharpest pencils in the box. But stupidity and racism aren’t the same things. There might have been a time when our nation could listen to this explanation and say, “Oh, I see. Well that’s different. People weren’t buying the doll, so Wal-Mart is offering a clearance sale. I guess that makes sense.”
Dream on. Such days are over and Wal-Mart’s stated reason is falling upon unsympathetic ears.
Having grown up Jewish, I myself am very sensitive to the fact that real honest to goodness racism does abound. Unfortunately, we water down the impact of this evil by irresponsibly applying the term “racist” to anyone who sneezes. Lately, it seems that no matter what people do, they fall into danger of receiving this title of disgrace. Long ago, most stores only sold white dolls. That was considered racist and rightly so. But human imagination can find racism anywhere. Sooner or later, somebody will condemn merchants because they do sell black dolls. After all, couldn’t such transactions remind us that living, African Americans were once sold like dolls in the open slave market? For that matter, maybe we shouldn’t sell white dolls either because historically, white people have also been sold as slaves. My own ancestors were slaves under the Egyptians. Jews were slaves under the Romans as well. So were Greeks. So were the people from any country Rome conquered. So maybe dolls shouldn’t be sold at all, not even at the same price. In fact….Hmm…If black dolls and white dolls are sold side by side at the same price, might it not remind us of the historic southern states who used to coin the idiotic rationalization, “Separate but equal?”
Yeah, better to just ban the sale of dolls period! Or…We could lighten up and ponder the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Wal-Mart is telling the truth. Maybe they lowered the cost of a doll that wasn’t selling for the same reason they lowered the cost of a DVD that isn’t selling; to cut their losses and get some kind of compensation.
What’s next? Will it be considered bigoted and hateful for Barbie to have Ken as a boyfriend? Will stores be sued for not creating a lesbian lover for Barbie as an alternative choice so that nobody feels left out while shopping for dolls? And if Margie doesn’t sell and they mark her down….Well, here we go again.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net. Comments to posts are discussed by Bob over the air where anyone is free to call in and respond/debate. Call in toll free number: 1-888-344-1170
Hi! Enjoy you and KCBQ. Shout out to Gayle, too!!! I like your thoughts. It is easy for people to leap to conclusions. Stores are out for $, and I think that is the bottom line, really. I do think Barbie and Ken have officially split, though, btw. Hey, ‘shouldn’t” she marry by now…or maybe that is sexist. Keep up the good work. ~ stacey, aka “SDBM”
Wal-Mart’s explanation sounds too reasonable to me. Maybe they really were trying to do a favor for black kids who may have preferred the black Barbie but can’t afford it. Lowering the price would make it more available to folks who can’t afford to pay the going price for a white Barbie. Apparently Wal-Mart’s modesty got the best of them and so they put it on a strictly business basis. Bad decision?
To me, it’s there they go again. In other words, this complaning about black Barbies being marked down is coming from the left wingers. Thet must have people that are told to “go out and scour our society” and look for anything wrong so as to blow it out of shape. Keep doing silly things like this, so as to keep the American people distracted from focusing on the real issues of the day. That way when we are all distracted, they can pass their communist agendas and force us all into bad government run health care, bad government run education, bad government run economy, etc. etc. etc. I just wish these same people doing the criticizing would do the same thing on government. How about getting indignant about a 1.5 trillion dollar deficit? Or that social security is going to run out of money before most Americans can retire? Let’s forget the small stuff and concentrate on the big issues of the day. And let little old Barbie ask Ken if it matters to him what people say about her cost.