When customers across the country flood into Walmart stores on a daily basis, they feel as though they are supporting an all-American business. The nation’s largest retailer has profited in the billions from this belief. However, the retailer just royally enraged the wrong part of their customer base with what they put in every store across America overnight that causing a lot of outrage.
Sometimes companies decide to put merchandise in their stores and it leaves many wondering, what were they thinking?! I mean, the merchandise doesn’t just hit the shelves by itself. Companies have many people who work for them that go to markets to decide what they should buy and what would do well in their stores. It goes through many levels before it hits the shelves and sometimes it is a wonder why people didn’t stop it sooner.
Should the company who is selling the questionable items be the only ones held responsible for their choice to buy/sell it or should the manufacturers be held responsible?
According to Irish Central, Kevin Westley, the Irish American man who successfully lobbied his local Walmart to stop selling t-shirts labeling the Irish as drunks in the lead-up to St. Patrick’s Day is now taking on Walmart corporate for the offensive Irish t-shirts the megastore company is selling on their website.
It’s less than one month to go until St. Patrick’s Day, and, like clockwork, stores and websites across the US are stocking their shelves with green t-shirts to wear on March 17.
Some of these t-shirts are bright and cheery displays of Irish pride and love for Ireland, others display funny puns or sayings. But there’s another category of these t-shirts: ones designed to glorify and promote the stereotype that the Irish are drunks and St. Patrick’s Day is nothing more than a day to get drunk beyond all recognition and throw up.
Kevin Westley is an Irish American who successfully took on his local Walmart back in 2015 in a one-man campaign, buying hundreds of their offensive Irish t-shirts to get them off the shelves and then, per Walmart’s exchange policy, returning them all on March 18.
Westley, a radio host and Irish dance instructor from Long Island, got widespread media attention for his campaign after IrishCentral broke the story. And in the years since, he’s been delighted to see his local Walmarts in East Meadow and Uniondale stocking no offensive or stereotyping t-shirts.
However, this year he has been outraged to see a bumper crop of insulting t-shirts on the Walmart website, emblazoned with phrases like “Need help with a drinking problem? Give us a call today. Irish Anonymous” or “I’m so Irish my liver hurts.”
Many might not think that the shirt is offensive, but clearly, Irish-Americans do. St. Patricks Day is known as a drinking holiday and most of the celebrations surrounding it involve drinking, which is likely where the sentiment on the shirt comes from. However, tying it to a class of people specifically, is a little out of touch, especially in our easily offended culture. There were probably a lot of better ways of making a light-hearted statement without indicating that everyone of Irish descent is an alcoholic.
How would people feel and react to a shirt saying, “I’m so American, I just broke the bathroom scale.” We should avoid stereotypes and just enjoy life without offending others.