Starbucks Ends #RaceTogether Because Ain’t Nobody Got Time To Talk About Race When Ordering A Venti Dirty Soy Chai Latte

We found that Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz’s #RaceTogether initiative to talk about America’s issues with race and discrimination a sincere move in wanting to join the conversation and incite positive change. But when he inducted the #RaceTogether campaign that asked of his baristas to write the hashtag on cups (in hopes of inspiring candid discourses), the effort was met with an unforeseen backlash and jokes online. In a personal letter from Schultz today, the CEO confirmed that writing #RaceTogether had been “completed” as of March 22, but that we’ll be seeing the movement beyond our Venti beverages.

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Over the weekend, Schultz had felt so defeated and hurt by the social media response, that he momentarily shut down his Twitter account. Many weren’t as open to the idea as he had hoped. But “Race Together” will continue, just in other forms throughout the months and years to come.

“We have a number of planned Race Together activities in the weeks and months to come: more partner open forums, three more special sections co-produced with USA TODAY over the course of the next year, more open dialogue with police and community leaders in cities across our country, a continued focus on jobs and education for our nation’s young people plus our commitment to hire 10,000 opportunity youth over the next three years.”

So while that embarrassing chapter for the company is done, Starbucks is still aiming to make a difference! At a recent conference in front of important shareholders and in a huge auditorium, Mellody Hobson, the Black female Board of Directors at Starbucks, led the the latest Race Together discussion and stated that we “[couldn’t] afford to be color-blind” and that we start behaving “color-brave.” “Color-brave.” Sounds intriguing.

She then offered some examples of how to just in little we all could invite integration and change in our everyday lives. “If you’re a part of a hiring process, or admission process, you can be color brave. If you are someone putting together a brainstorming session for school or work, you can be color-brave. If you are sitting with a group of people at a table and you notice that everyone looks like you, you can stand up and be color-brave.”

We still believe that at least Starbucks is trying! How many other CEOs are tackling racism or uncomfortable topics head on?


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I Came For The Caffeine, Not The Race Chats


Source: JEWEL SAMAD / Getty

It’s 7:00 a.m., you’re feeling barely alive, and you need a mighty jolt of caffeine to properly prepare you for the morning. Is that the best time to talk to your server about institutionalized racism and white supremacy? Would you like a shot of espresso coupled with a brief chat about the tenets of racial equality? Or that Oprah chai I keep hearing about?

I don’t want any of these things, so for all of CEO Howard Schultz’s intentions, I’m not sure what pushing Starbucks baristas to talk race with the stores’ customers will accomplish.

On the company’s website about the #RaceForward initiative, the site explains that Schultz saw what was happening in cities like Ferguson, New York, and Oakland and felt that, “We at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America.” However, “Not to point fingers or to place blame, and not because we have answers, but because staying silent is not who we are.”

So, you’d like to discuss race in America based on instances of racial unrest tied to discrimination in the aforementioned cities, but “not to point fingers or to place blame.” In essence, this is encouraging banter but not serious or arguably meaningful conversation.

How American, indeed.

To have a real conversation about race in America is to discuss racism. Without looking at an issue wholly, you are having nothing more than superficial dialogue. It would be like first date conversation, only the kind the results in you never seeing that person again. Ever.

To be fair to Starbucks, the store does notable charity work and is now helping some of its baristas cover the costs of college. This comes across as an extension of their commitment to community. Even so, for many a working class or poor neighborhood resident, a new Starbucks is the first sign that a change is going to come — that will more than likely displace them. The CEO of Starbucks would probably find himself in an awkward conversation discussing this reality. Can you imagine what a barista might face if they write “Race Forward” on a cup and someone dares to inquire?

Speaking of these baristas, already there is a hashtag #StarbucksRaceTheory in which someone and likely others will share their experiences with uh, racially insensitive Starbucks workers. Most of them are not equipped to discuss such complicated matters. They’re collecting a check (that should probably be bigger) and the customers just want caffeine (to go collect a check that should probably be bigger, too).

We should not complicate this formula to assuage the guilt of white liberals. White liberals who are diverse in their worker base, but not in their executive offices. Per the Starbucks website, one partner said, “The current state of racism in our country is almost like humidity at times. You can’t see it, but you feel it.” Many of us feel it damn near every day of our lives. What is your barista going to do about it? What makes you think I want to talk about it anyway?

Again, it is nice in theory, but execution matters. I like the idea of the company having an “all-hands meeting at the Starbucks Support Center, where people of various backgrounds congregated to share their experiences.” That sort of dialogue does matter and is effective, but that is a prime example of having a proper forum.

For those that do want to talk about race during a coffee run, have at it. However, if I see “Race Forward” written on my cup, I’m running past that convo. This is why I stick to the bodega coffee anyway. It’s cheaper, just as effective, and conversation is limited to telling each other to have a good day. That’s all I need in that moment.

Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem, and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him @youngsinick.


So This Is Happening: Starbucks Plans To Serve Side Of Race Relations With Coffee

So This Is Happening: Starbucks Plans To Serve Side Of Race Relations With Coffee


Source: (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

You know that list of companies that are outspoken about gay marriage? The ones that tell gun advocates to put their firearms away when walking into their stores? The ones that pay your tuition and boast unity from their liberal boardrooms?

Starbucks is that company.

So it was only a matter of time before the inevitable came. Tackling race. And that’s just what CEO Howard Schultz is encouraging his employees to do.

Sparked by open forums for workers to discuss race in the wake of national protests to dismantle police violence and confront racial tensions, the company has launched their newest initiative Race Together — a campaign to foster healthy racial dialogue between baristas and customers.

The Washington Post reports:

In partnership with USA Today, Starbucks has launched a week-long campaign under the banner “Race Together” to get staff and customers talking about race. In a video message, Schultz urges “partners” to write the phrase on their paper cups “to facilitate a conversation between you and our customers.” A USA Today supplement, set to be published March 20, includes a number of “conversation starters,” including the fill-in-the-blank question: “In the past year, I have been to the home of someone of a different race ___ times.”

Interesting, given that you can see what types of interactions customers of color are having with their baristas just by clicking the insightful hashtag #StarbucksRaceStory.

And on the flip side, some people aren’t too happy about engaging in dialogue with a company that many are critically examining as the problem, not the solution.

But Schultz, who wants to “promote a new level of understanding and sensitivity about the issue,” according to CNN Money, says the forums and discussions aren’t created to point fingers. No Sway, Starbucks isn’t claiming to have the answers. But for Shultz, “staying silent is not who we are.”

“We have problems in this country with regard to race and racial inequality and we believe we’re better than this and we believe the country is better than this,” he said.

In any case, the campaign isn’t going over too well with those directly affected by racism. Especially since teaching privileged customers who come to buy $7 lattes isn’t in a barista’s job description. We’re guessing that’s the last thing they want to do.

This can go a bunch of different ways and none of them are pointing up. Except for this clever hashtag that brilliantly mocks Starbucks’ effort. Because it’s great. And we can’t stop laughing.

Starbucks may want to employ Twitter to do the job for them. We’re just saying.

SOURCE: Washington Post, CNN Money, Twitter | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty


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Starbucks CEO Sparks An All-Too-Real Racial Tolerance Conversation

The CEO of your favorite place to get a white chocolate mocha (or is that just us) has gone from admirable coffeehouse entrepreneur to impassioned orator. Howard Schultz, the Starbucks CEO furthered the conversation on America’s stance with diversity and racism and held another open forum with hundreds of Starbucks employees at the California African American Museum this week.

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First initiated weeks ago in Seattle, Schultz’s goal of widening the talk of race in America has evolved into a series for the company. The businessman, traveling from Oakland, St. Louis and New York, is on a quest to get his employees to honestly share how they view and treat different cultures and ethnicity in their everyday lives. Wow!

Starbucks openly hires (at 40 percent) people of various backgrounds and Schultz was inspired to hold these massive talks from the aftermath of Ferguson last fall. For being a successful White male in America, the racial elements of Michael Brown’s death touched him deeply and caused him to reflect on his own manners of dealing with race: “Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have unconscious biases,” as he told USA Today. “We had to do something. No ignoring it or being a bystander.” He shared with USA that as a child, he remembers the images on TV of the civil rights movement and hearing Robert F. Kennedy speak after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

There is also a business component to the forum. Schultz noticed that based on “the national mood” of the country, Starbucks’ sales would rise or fall. In New York, during the #BLACKLIVESMATTERS protests, sales were “tanking.” He insists that the forums aren’t organized to keep business afloat, but to check in with his employees because if they are happy and the topics they care most about aren’t neglected, business in return is a more fruitful experience for everyone. But don’t write off Schultz for someone just only looking out for his brand. He’s a very charitable person, as just last October, he introduced a partnership with Starbucks and non-profits in New York and L.A. to help fund educational programs and has a foundation geared towards helping veterans.

Schultz’s effort is admirable–and smart–because of course everybody wins when people are generally happy, but at the very least, feel understood. He’s hopeful that our CEOs and managers will follow his lead.

“In every city we’ve had these meetings, there has been a tremendous amount of learning. There’s been a true level of compassion about what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes.”

What do you think beauties? Sound off in the comments below.


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