I don’t know exactly what happened with the two black men arrested for apparently loitering inside a Philadelphia Starbucks. There is always context and details to these incidents that never get reported in the rush to declare it a racist hate crime straight out of the 1960s. If the men were arrested simply because of an overreacting Starbucks manager, then it’s wrong, I’m sure it was terrifying for the two men, and this kind of thing should never happen.
But overreaction to incidents like this has become a very bad national habit.
Now, all 8,000-plus Starbucks locations will be closed on Tuesday, May 29, depriving America of an entire day of over-priced, European-sounding coffees and lattes. Whatever will we do? That may be the real apocalypse.
The stores will be closed so Starbucks can address a rampant, company-wide culture of racism in their customer relations. So ingrained is this racial bias in Starbucks employees that they’ve called the cops to remove black customers at least once in the company’s almost 50-year history.
This is the problem with every unfortunate incident in the social media era --- there is an immediate, wild overreaction. Because if you don’t express the proper level of grief, remorse, apology, reparation, t-shirt-wearing, and hashtagging, you’re screwed. Commence the boycotts! It’s insane.
It’s time to examine their menu.
The New York Times asks in an urgent-sounding headline, “Can Training Eliminate Biases? Starbucks Will Test the Thesis.” Can it be done? Can eight hours of mandatory seminars and how-to videos override a lifetime of oppressive white/male cultural programming? Of course it can. Why else would Starbucks forfeit an entire day of revenue and hire a special public policy group to run these seminars if it couldn’t?
While they’re at it, however, altering racist hearts and minds isn’t the only thing that Starbucks needs to take a hard look at. It’s time to examine their menu, which is rife with racial profiling and trigger words. A drink called a “Blonde Flat White?” Two Caucasian words in a single drink name? Not. Cool.