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False Outrage (Over Walmart’s Thug Life Mask)

October 24, 2016

 I’ve seen a few posts on social media (I mean Facebook because who knows the last time I tweeted and I haven’t figured out the rest of them) about boycotting Walmart because of the Thug Life Halloween costume they put on sale for the season and apparently sold out of. And I couldn’t understand the impetus behind the boycott.

 

First let it be said that there is no love lost between Walmart and myself. I worked the overnight shift at Walmart restocking shelves for the better part of a year when my first daughter was born for extra money. My experience with that company was terrible – from rushing me through training so I could risk injury to the unyielding attitude they took toward nonsense (I got spoken to about tidying the aisle with 30 minutes left instead of bringing out and starting another palette of juice). But I never expected anything less of Walmart and I still don’t. They are a company that tries to make money as efficiently as possible. That means squeezing employees but it also means hitching their star to the most recent trend.

 

This Halloween that is the Thug Life costume and of course Walmart is selling it.

Second, the costume is supposedly sold out. In other words people couldn’t buy these things fast enough. I try not to get upset with people for making money (legally) but I could understand if this movement was about targeting people for buying the costume. It could be argued that buying such merchandise is exploiting Tupac’s image. If we are going to get upset, it should be at the people who are buying this sham of a costume.

 

 But even that is not something I feel strongly about because I bet everyone who would buy such a costume knows it is a reference to Tupac and the tattoo he had across his midsection. I’m sure a substantial percentage of people will wear the costume sincerely while reciting the lyrics to “California Love.” The folks (black and white) who patronize Walmart are working class and as such would have been very familiar with Tupac’s catalog.

 

It wouldn’t be surprising if there were some white people who are mocking him or buying the costume with racist motivations, but I am not willing to say that group is the majority. Tupac didn’t sell all those records and expand the reach of hip hop because a whole bunch of racists were supporting him.

 

So if people are buying the costume because they like Tupac, and Walmart is following their normal modus operandi and making money off of the latest trend then the only thing to get upset about is the underlying idea that Tupac was promoting a lifestyle un-conducive to thriving in the United States as a person of color.

 

That I believe. Most people will not earn a living entertaining others through songs. But the people I’ve seen advocating a boycott of Walmart were not speaking out against Tupac and his lifestyle before this costume made it to shelves. The people that I’m seeing post about boycotting Walmart are more likely to have supported his music and the persona he depicted throughout his time at the top of the hip hop industry. So it’s a bit hypocritical to get upset at others supporting that same persona.

 

The article advocating boycotting Walmart states that times have changed, that the prominence of Black Lives Matter protests/protesters makes things different in October 2016. I totally agree that times have changed insofar as times are always changing. So I am not moved to believe that this moment in time is so special that people should not be able to pretend to be a recording artist whose music they enjoy.

 

I won’t be joining those people since I wasn’t the biggest fan, but I can’t say those who do want to buy the costume are wrong.

 

Want to See Thug Life at Walmart? Click below:

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