Starbucks employees are being urged to have a chat with customers about race relations in America, but the Twitterverse isn’t buying.
Baristas interested in opening the race-based dialogue will be hand-writing the slogan “Race Together” on coffee cups served to their customers.
“We at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America,” CEO Howard Schultz insisted. “If a customer asks you what this is, try to engage in a discussion that we have problems in this country in regards to race. And we believe that we are better than this, and we believe our country is better than this,” he explained about the campaign which is supposed to improve empathy, equality, diversity, and inclusiveness in America.
Starbucks’ idea has prompted a social media backlash, however (see below for a selection of the “hot water” that the company has found itself in), which apparently even prompted a company communications executive to ironically delete his Twitter account, according to Business Insider.
The coffee chain recently announced the new initiative in full-page ads in The New York Times and USA TODAY which “is part of an initiative launched this week by the coffee store chain to stimulate conversation and debate about the race in America by getting employees to engage with customers about the perennially hot button subject,” Fortune reported. “Starbucks says its baristas will be under no obligation to engage with customers on the topic. The goal is simply to foster discussion and an exchange of ideas.”
The company initiative comes as a result of open forums with Starbucks employees based in cities that have experienced racial tension.
Schultz is expected to discuss the campaign in more detail at tomorrow’s annual Starbucks shareholders meeting. Starbucks has about 12,000 stores in the U.S.
One Washington Post columnist is hardly enamored with the latest Starbucks corporate initiative. “The idea — that the revolutionary action needed in our nation’s continued entanglement with racism is writing a phrase on a Starbucks cup — is a frothy combination of one pump hubris, three pumps privilege and four shots of I-can’t-even… Starbucks customers are snippy, bordering on insufferable, at the best of times. I know. I’m one myself. I cannot imagine trying to tell them about ‘compassion, the need for empathy, the need for love towards others’ BEFORE they have gotten access to caffeine.”
Added Breitbart News: “As for the average Joe who just wants his cup of expensive joe, he’ll either slump his shoulders and start working up some prepared comments he can mumble to get the barista off his back… or he’ll get his coffee from a company that doesn’t treat him like a lab rat in a consciousness-raising experiment.”
Are you comfortable with or receptive to talking about racial issues with a Starbucks barista?
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News]