We certainly do appreciate Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz’s push to talk about America’s race relations, holding large-scale conferences with his company’s employees. After weeks of those honest discussions, one of the nation’s most famous coffeehouses began their #RaceTogether campaign in which baristas were asked to engage in conversations about racism with their customers. It only took hours, but neither Twitter nor real life was having it and the attempt got lampooned! But how come?
#RaceTogether was meant to issue a comfortable space for talking about race for everyone, but many found it unrealistic to explain exactly why Black people deserved reparations in the 30 seconds it takes to receive their White Chocolate Mocha, or, in in general it just felt a bit coerced.
We’re all for keeping it real about the level of racism and discrimination in America, but possibly the Starbucks counter isn’t the most convenient place. How about the brand creates an online forum instead? Maybe even install machines or tablets in various locations where people can post their thoughts (you know they’ve got the money for it!) But for most who are getting a cup of joe, a latte, or macchiato from Starbucks are usually in a grab and go or laptop-in-tow screenwriting mode. There should be at least a natural transition for a sensitive topic.
We feel kind of bad for Schultz and Starbucks though! At least they’re trying!
But you’ve got to see some of the tweets that fired back at #RaceTogether. As funny as they are, maybe we’re still in limbo in America in how to talk about race…or there really is a time and a place for it.
Do you think the backlash was fair? Was Starbucks reaching this time with this campaign? Sound off in the comments!