“Let’s talk about race!” – your Starbucks barista
Would you like room for social justice in your coffee?
If you find those words gracing your morning cup of joe, it’s because Starbucks launched a new initiative yesterday. CEO Howard Schultz is encouraging baristas (or ‘Partners’ as Starbucks calls their employees) to initiate conversations about race with their customers.
Citing Ferguson and New York, Schultz decided to join the race conversation, “we at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America,” Schultz said. “Not to point fingers or to place blame, and not because we have answers, but because staying silent is not who we are.”
After holding forums in select cities like Oakland, St. Louis, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, partners began voluntarily writing ‘Race Together’ on cups, according to a statement released Monday. Now, Starbucks is taking the campaign nationwide. Special ‘Race Together’ stickers will be provided to baristas, who may place the provocative stickers on beverages, as a way to engage customers in friendly discourse about race.
“It is an opportunity to begin to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society – one conversation at a time,” Schultz said.
Schultz’s efforts seem noble, but might be viewed as more legitimate were his reasons for entering the contentious race arena not predicated on blatant falsehoods and astroturfed race hustling.
To be fair, conservative ideology has bled into the turbulent world of corporate advocacy, though with marked distinction and with significantly less prevalence. Chick-fil-a President and CEO, Dan Cathy, got a chance to tussle with the gay rights mafia (which must be separated from advocacy groups working in earnest) a few years ago when his sentiments on same sex marriage made their way into the public. Enduring intense public backlash, Cathy later said Chick-fil-a had no place in culture wars.
The views Cathy expressed were his personal opinions, completely unlike the corporate campaign thrust upon unsuspecting java-lovers by Starbucks. Chick-fil-a employees weren’t instructed to engage customers on marriage equality nor were “let’s talk about your views on heteronormative sex” stickers placed on boxes of waffle fries.
The public typically responds well to powerful figures with large microphones who champion their values, and each side has their folk heroes. But being confronted with politicized discussion (and currently the topic of race is certainly politicized) while engaging in the sacred morning ritual of caffeination? Not only is it wholly unnecessary but it ventures into naiveté and borders on cruel.
While change must begin somewhere, and honest conversations must be had, are well meaning platitudes, forcing unsolicited political discourse on consumers who voluntarily frequent your establishment is probably not the best way to effect change.
Personally, I prefer my coffee sans social justice.
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Not that I have even been into one of these crap shops since their less than stellar response to defend their customers 2nd amendment rights, but should I ever experience some sort of mental laps and end up in one of their stores and should I receive a cup with such a sticker on it, which you know you will because someone will be putting them on all the cups so they don’t have to worry about it while actually selling coffee, I will hand it back and ask for a less bigoted and political cup. Since in my life the only race problem I have seen is the race grievance industry constantly trying to blame me for being born white.
Don’t do starbucks, however for those who do – try starting off your conversation about black slaveowners and let us know how it goes.
Anthony Johnson (b. c. 1600 – d. 1670) was an Angolan who achieved freedom in the early 17th century Colony of Virginia, where he became one of the first black property owners and slaveholders. Held as an indentured servant in 1621, he earned his freedom after several years, which was accompanied by a grant of land. He later became a successful tobacco farmer. Notably, he is recognized for attaining great wealth after having been an indentured servant.
When Anthony Johnson was released from servitude, he was legally recognized as a “free Negro.” He developed a successful farm. In 1651 he owned 250 acres, and the services of four white and one black indentured servants. In 1653, John Casor, a black indentured servant whose contract Johnson appeared to have bought in the early 1640s, approached Captain Goldsmith, claiming his indenture had expired seven years earlier and that he was being held illegally by Johnson. A neighbor, Robert Parker, intervened and persuaded Johnson to free Casor.
What will happen is AFTER the drink is served, every clown in the world will subject the barista to highly racist joke for sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong.
Shame on Starbucks for putting their employees on the butt of this stupid idea.
I addressed that very point in a paper-and-postage letter I sent to their customer service address.
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