In the wake of the arrest of two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia last week, the chain announced next month it will close 8,000 locations for racial bias education.
According to a Washington Post report, the stores will close to provide education for 175,000 employees during the afternoon of May 29. Police arrested two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks last Thursday, and resident Melissa DePino recorded and tweeted a video of the incident, according to a CNN report. Ultimately, Starbucks declined to press charges.
The Philidelphia location where the arrests took place closed due to protests both indoors and outdoors that occurred as a result of the incident. However, the store reopened on Tuesday for business as usual, and the manager who called the police is no longer with the store. The protests appear to have died down.
While Starbucks chief executive Kevin Johnson met with the men police arrested after the manager called 911 to complain they didn’t leave after being asked to leave, he knows that the company must do more to ensure nothing like this happens at their stores again. He’s committed to figuring out what went wrong and taking the steps necessary to fix the issue.
One of those steps is racial bias education for Starbucks employees. The cost of shutting stores for an afternoon and spending that time training employees is high, but the cost of doing nothing is much higher not only for the brand but also for the community and the nation. What happened in Philly isn’t just a Starbucks problem — it’s still very much a national issue that occurs on a daily basis for many citizens and non-citizens across the United States.
As for the curriculum Starbucks plans to use to teach its employees to overcome racial bias, they assembled an experienced team to help develop it over the next six weeks or so. Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League; Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; and Heather McGhee, president of policy center Demos will help create a comprehensive educational program for the company.