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Diversity Exercise - Walmart Case Study

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Diversity Exercise

Kristi J. Rawlins

Eastern Kentucky University

As a white woman in today's society, I did not realize how many privileges and advantages that I have until I completed this diversity exercise. In this exercise, I was supposed to imagine that I was a 34 year-old African-American single woman with a child. I have a date coming up in two days with a gorgeous man. I really want to impress him, so I make a shopping list of a few items to get ready for the date. The items on my list all need to match my skin color. The items are: bandages, silk stockings, blemish cover/make-up, book/toy for 6 year-old daughter, fashion magazine, romance novel, and a birthday card for my best friend. After making my shopping, list I go to Wal-mart to try to find the items.

When I went to Wal-mart to go shopping, I was able to find everything on my list except for bandages in my skin color. However, the number of different companies/manufacturers that produced the African-American products was less than those that produced European-American products. For example, Cover Girl, Maybelline, Revlon, and L'oreal were the only companies that produced the make-up for African-American women. Other companies such as Almay and Neutrogena did not. When I shopped for a book for my daughter, I could only find one with an African-American child on it! When I shopped for a toy for her, I noticed that there were less African-American baby dolls than European-American dolls. However, there did seem to be more African-American Barbie dolls than I have noticed in the past. Nevertheless, there were still more European-American Barbie dolls overall. Another item that was also very difficult to find was a romance novel written by an African-American author and featuring African-American people. I only found five books with African-American people on the cover. In addition, I only found one birthday card for my African-American best friend! As for the fashion magazine and silk stockings, there seemed to be a fair amount of these.

While shopping for these items, I did pay close attention to how the prices compared to those products for European-American customers. Overall, the prices seemed the same. Maybe this is because Wal-mart always claims to have low prices. However, there was a noticeable difference was on the romance novel. The African-American novels were $4.68, and the European-American novels started out at $3.56. This is almost a dollar difference!

Assuming that I, as an African-American woman, encountered some difficulties in deciding on certain beauty products (e.g. making decisions regarding the best color of blemish cover to use), I would look for an African-American sales person in the store. However, there were not any African-American sales people around.

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