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Wal-Mart pulls offensive Mexican cartoon character from U.S. shelves

LatinaLista — Wal-Mart, the Arkansas-based discount department store, has never been known for its sensitivity in regard to its corporate strategy of pushing mom-and-pop stores out of business in those markets it wants to dominate but when it comes to its products, it has shown that it understands who its buyers are — Latinos.
From selling CDs of music by various Latino artists to dedicating grocery store aisles to Hispanic comida, Wal-Mart has been sensitive to its Latino buyers. This sensitivity has allowed them to conquer some markets in Mexico.
Yet, it’s important to note that U.S. Latino buyers are different from Mexican buyers. On this side of the border, Latinos are assimilated into a culture that strives to be sensitive to all ethnicities — that’s not the case in most Latin and Central American countries.

Mexican comic book character Memin Penguin
A prime example is the Memin Penguin comic book character. The character, with its dark skin and “buffoonish” features resembles a black child. According to its creator, the character is supposed to be Cuban.
That the character is abused by white or lighter skinned characters says as much about the historical role of prejudice and discrimination in Latin and Central America than how this character has evolved into a beloved icon in these same countries.
Perhaps it was because of this iconic stature that Wal-Mart thought it was ok to carry the comic books in their stores on this side of the border. Needless to say, complaints poured in from African Americans. This morning, Wal-Mart decided to pull the comic books.
A wise move.
It’s one thing to cater to the tastes and culture that ethnic groups bring with them to this country but it’s a different matter when aspects of that culture are better left behind in the old country.
This is where companies can show real sensitivity to the greater good of everyone concerned and understand that, regardless of the ethnicity, we are all Americans.

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