by G. Brown
The java giant’s “Bring on the Day” slogan might need to be amended to ‘Bring on the Day for training employees not to be racist because people are still fuming mad at us’. It might not be catchy, but its accurate.
The Seattle-based coffee shop has been drowning in bad PR since a very publicized arrest of two Black men at one of its stores in Philadelphia. Their crime trespassing. Their story, they were sitting waiting on a friend to meet them.
The video went viral over the weekend…and Starbucks has been roasting as the ruckus continued brewing. Everything from protests, to boycott threats to right wing nuts floating fake news about special codes representing White supramacists to land a free “Black” coffee.
And then there’s getting trashed on social media which leads to what’s becoming the inevitable end–a harsh hashtag. For Starbucks, the war cry is “#ReplaceStarbucks“. And according to Atlanta Black Star, coffee connoisseurs are doing just that.
The news site says the racist meltdown is forcing some coffee lovers to get their cup o’ Joe elsewhere…especially at Black-owned coffee shops. Atlanta Black Star says “As the public continues to protest the incidents, they’ve also migrated toward Black-owned businesses in Sacramento and Oakland, Calif., as well as Durham, N.C.”
The article continues with the story of the owner of Sacramento’s Tiferet Coffee House who said, “We have been getting phone calls, we have been getting emails. People have reached out to us in numerous ways just thanking us for being who we are, providing the service that we are, and we’ve had a surge… of the community’s support, coming in to thank us.”
Another California coffee shop is seeing an increase thanks to a shout out from “Suits” and “Selma” star Wendell Pierce who tweeted…
Starbucks in the meantime has been trying hard to salvage the reputation its spent nearly 50 years building. The CEO issued this apology, “We regret that our practices and training led to the reprehensible outcome at our Philadelphia store. We’re taking immediate action to learn from this and be better. ” The first step in living up to that “immediate action promise… Starbucks is closing 8,000 stores on May 29th to educate nearly 200,000 employees in racial bias training. The training will reportedly cost $12 million.
Let’s commend Starbucks for owning its mess and trying to clean it up. It’s a responsible, proactive effort. But honestly, do we really expect a few hours of racial bias training to fix this? We’re talking about centuries old, deeply rooted hatred, prejudices and biases that lie at the core of America’s foundation.
Experts say anything learned can be unlearned…but the proof often sited in changing behavior is tied to teaching younger children. We can all be trained to behave in more acceptable way in public, but at times of extreme stress people often fall back into their old behavior.
Starbucks hopes to make things better with the new sensitivity training. But what happens when we leave the coffeehouse and try to hail a cab in a major city, or walk into a department store where we are followed because of the color of our skin or a young man or woman is gunned down because they’re Black?
It’s not just Starbucks that should be looking at a way to make things better when it comes to tolerance and acceptance of different races and cultures. All of America could benefit from some anti-racial bias training.