January 10, 2006
“”Once again, Wal-Mart faces a critical moral test of whether it will do the right thing or ignore the concerns of the American people.
For Wal-Mart’s website to associate movies about prominent African American leaders with “”Planet of the Apes: The TV Series”” is offensive and insensitive.
CEO Lee Scott and Wal-Mart owe all of America, and especially every African American, not only an apology, but a detailed explanation of how and why Wal-mart’s DVD “”mapping system”” would ever make such racist recommendations.
Was the software programmed to do this or was this just some racist joke? In light of recent accusations of racism at a Wal-Mart store in Florida, as well as Wal-Mart’s history of using a Nazi image in its advertising last year, Wal-Mart owes America a more detailed explanation of how and why this could ever happen.
We call on Lee Scott to launch an immediate and independent investigation to find out how this racist and insensitive incident could happen at Wal-Mart. The American people deserve a real explanation as to how this terrible incident transpired and what steps Wal-Mart has taken to prevent future problems.
We can only hope that Wal-Mart will step up and do what is right for the American people.””
Wal-Mart Statement on Racist Recommendations Made on Wal-Mart Website:
The following comments can be attributed to Mona Williams, Vice President Corporate Communications, Wal-Mart:
Bentonville, Ark. – January 5, 2006 – We are heartsick that this happened and are currently doing everything possible to correct the problem. The offensive combinations that have been identified will be removed from the site by 5:30 CT today. However, with thousands of movie items available, there is an almost endless number of possible combinations. Because of that, we will be shutting down our entire movie cross-selling system until the problem is resolved.
Our system, like those of most other on-line buying sites, refers buyers interested in a particular movie to other movies through a technical process known as “”mapping.””
Walmart.com’s item mapping process does not work correctly and at this point is mapping seemingly random combinations of titles. We were horrified to discover that some hurtful and offensive combinations are being mapped together.
To further illustrate the bizarre nature of this technical issue, the site is also mapping movies such as Home Alone and Power Puff Girls to African American-themed DVDs.
We are deeply sorry that this happened.