The product line “Gay Pride Apparel” is designed by Sergio Aragon and Jesus Gutierrez. Their small New York City-based company is one of four businesses rolling out “pride” merchandise for Walmart stories in June, according to a story by The Arizona Republic.
That list of “pride” products is long: hats, stickers, patches, water bottles, lanyards, notebooks, greeting cards, enamel pins, socks, and fanny packs.
Walmart, started by Arkansas businessman Sam Walton, has emerged as the world’s largest retailer and private employer with 5,300-plus stores in the U.S. Those stores brought in a whopping $572 billion in sales in 2022, with stock currently trading at $149 a share.
Ethan Peck, speaking for National Center for Public Policy Research, tells AFN the fact Walmart has embraced “Pride Month” in its stores demonstrates the corporation has been “captured” by the culture. What he means by that, he explains, is that corporate offices are not concerned anymore about pleasing customers or even making money for shareholders.
“They are interested in serving the asset managers like BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street,” Peck warns, “who have taken them over.”
New York City-based BlackRock is a multi-trillion dollar investment behemoth. It made headlines in the past year for gobbling up whole neighborhoods to turn them into rental properties. The company also has its corporate claws in Walmart and has emerged as one of the company’s top corporate investors along with Vanguard Group.
‘Wokesters’ not calling the shots
Peck's non-complimentary view of corporate America comes from first-hand experience after he and a National Center campaign called the Free Enterprise Project have crisscrossed the country to confront corporate CEOs about their left-wing activism in front of fellow shareholders. Owning shares gives National Center a seat at those shareholder meetings, and an opportunity to speak, but what Peck is witnessing is that a Fortune 500 company that is seemingly motivated by left-wing Diversity-Equity-Inclusion activism is not setting the woke agenda in the corporate boardroom.
“Sure, there are genuine wokesters at the corporation and there is an element of trying to appease the woke mob,” Peck explains. “But I think it's appeasing BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street, and Human Rights Campaign, and groups like that, that causes them to do this.”
Back in 2018, for example, after the tragic shooting at Parkland High School, BlackRock announced it was offering its clients investment opportunities that didn’t include firearms, such as retailer stores and gun manufacturers. At the same time, Walmart announced it was removing AR-15-style rifles from its stores and was raising the age to purchase a shotgun or rifle to age 21.
Peck includes the Human Rights Campaign in his criticism because that national group, a homosexual lobbying firm, maintains a "Corporate Equality Index." Just as it sounds, the group watches to see how much major corporations embrace and promote LGBT activism in their HR policies, donations, hiring and promotions, and marketing campaigns. Walmart currently has a score of 100.
BlackRock's back-patting congratulations for pleasing HRC and other left-wing groups can be read here.
‘This is, like, the biggest thing’
Meanwhile, the “Gay Pride Apparel” designers told The Arizona Republic the cooperation from Walmart surprised and delighted them because the business owners recognize the reach and influence of Walmart stores.
“This is, like, the biggest thing that Gay Pride Apparel has done — ever,” one of the business owners said.
The business model created by Sam Walton back in the 1960s was to build new stores in rural communities and small towns. So it was not lost on the “Pride Apparel” owners that Walmart reached out to them and asked them to participate in the corporation’s embrace of “Pride Month” in June.
“It's going to be so refreshing for a 13-year-old, a 14-year-old, someone younger than that,” one of them said, “to walk into a Walmart and see items that reflect with their identity.”