On Sunday, Starbucks—the fave corporate beverage chain of urban whites everywhere—launched its #RaceTogether campaign with a full-page ad in The New York Times. Apparently the giant corporation’s overwhelmingly white owners want to stimulate a national conversation about racial matters between minimum-wage-earning baristas and customers who can afford to throw away seven dollars for a simple cup of Joe with a teaspoon of milk. The company is also encouraging its service workers to write “Race Together” on cups of coffee in order to, well, y’know, facilitate, stimulate, and possibly even exacerbate this conversation.
Here are 20 reactions to this announcement.
Ask your @Starbucks barista why there are zero Starbucks in Ferguson, Missouri. Then tell them to enjoy a hot cup of STFU. #RaceTogether
You can’t have an honest conversation about race with people whom you also have to make happy in order to pay your rent…. Is there a corporate guideline for how many times customers will have to hear a woman in Lululemon pants say, “I don’t see color” in between sips of her Oprah Chai Tea LatteTM before racism is cured?
I can envision awkward situations where the baristas ask a customer, “So how do you want your coffee?” to which the customer responds, “Black.” For some reason saying “black” in the context of this program could feel uncomfortable. Next thing you know, Starbucks will have to coin politically correct terms for “black” coffee.
Even as someone who is completely okay with dedicating the rest of my life to talking about and solving for racism and discrimination, I’m not looking for a possibly contentious conversation about race during the morning coffee rush.
Tone-deaf and self-aggrandizing aspects of Race Together haven’t helped in establishing a strong base for employees to build on. Starbucks’ press photos for the event appear to feature only white employees.
Thank you very much for making my coffee today. But next time I’ll just go to Dunkin’ Donuts, where no one’s conducting uncomfortable social experiments on unwitting customers who — inexplicably — thought that the goods-for-money exchange would be a sufficient enough transaction. Good luck solving racism.
[A]s imperfect as racial dialogues held at Starbucks are likely to be, they may well be more constructive than many now happening online. So long as that is true, the web should cut Starbucks some slack.
So no matter how ugly the discussion has been since I shut my account down, I’m reaffirming my belief in the power of meaningful, civil, thoughtful, respectful open conversation — on Twitter and everywhere else.
—Corey duBrowa, Starbucks vice president of communications, after shutting his Twitter account down once the “open conversation” was opened.
[T]he clumsy nature of reducing a serious, impossibly complex national conversation to a hashtag on a coffee cup has united Twitter users of all races in roundly denouncing the attempt.