Should I Leave Room In The Cup For Your White Privilege?

Starbucks wants its baristas to talk to you about race

Starbucks to encourage baristas to discuss race relations with customers

CEO Howard Schultz is encouraging his employees to bring up the hot-button issue — his latest foray into controversial topics.

Starbucks SBUX -0.58% CEO Howard Schultz has never shied away from involving his company in controversial debates, whether those debates are about same-sex marriage, or gun control, or U.S. government gridlock.

But the executive, who oversees a coffee empire with 4,700 U.S. stores, has now taken on arguably the most polarizing political debate in the United States: race relations.

Starbucks published a full page ad in the New York Times on Sunday — a stark, black, page with a tiny caption “Shall We Overcome?” in the middle, and the words “RaceTogether” with the company logo, on the bottom right. The ad, along with a similar one on Monday in USA Today, 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.

Beginning on Monday, Starbucks baristas will have the option as they serve customers to hand cups on which they’ve handwritten the words “Race Together” and start a discussion about race. This Friday, each copy of USA Today — which has a daily print circulation of almost 2 million and is a partner of Starbucks in this initiative — will have the first of a series of insert with information about race relations, including a variety of perspectives on race. Starbucks coffee shops will also stock the insert.

Why does everything, every single act in life, have to be a political statement to some people?

13 Responses to “Should I Leave Room In The Cup For Your White Privilege?”

  1. Gary from jersey says:

    Race and gender studies majors populate the barista profession. Imagine how those chats will go.

  2. leelu says:

    Why? Because they can.

    And they think they’re holding your morning coffee hostage until you engage them.

    OTOH, I find the local gas station coffee to be quite good, at about 1/3 the cost.

  3. Julie says:

    Si, how’s that going to go?
    Barista: “That’s 5.95. Boy, how ’bout that civil rights thing?”

  4. Syd B. says:

    So, if I go into a Starbucks and ask for a tall black one with just the right amount of sugar, can I expect someone to engage me?

  5. JeffS says:

    That blew up in their face. BIG TIME.

  6. Gunslinger says:

    I’d rather see them do something really impressive such as add up a column of numbers without a calculator.

  7. gregor says:

    Starbuck’s coffee, company and “aura” all suck. If
    I want that experience, I make my own cup of coffee,
    yell out my name incorrectly and burn a five dollar bill,,
    all without leaving my home.

  8. Julie says:

    Gregor, don’t forget to make your table sticky and play irritating music loud enough to prevent conversations (on race or any other subject.)

  9. Rob says:

    Thinking they’re going to rethink that soon.

  10. gregor says:

    Good point, Julie. I also forgot about the sockless,
    arrogant, hipster wifi hogs that need to sprawl about
    and nurse their crap ass brew whilst surfing the web
    to find the latest trendy thing they can all rebel against
    so they can confirm their non-conformist individuality.

  11. ricki says:

    But it wouldn’t have been a “conversation.” It would have been a “purity test” to see if the customer believed the “right” thing, like the barista did.

    I dunno. When I go to places like coffee shops, the post office, or the grocery store, I want to conduct my business, pay, and scram as fast as possible. I DON’T want someone in front of me holding up the line while they either smugly pontificate or are being browbeaten for not thinking exactly the same as the barista….

  12. Skyler says:

    If everything is political then everything will be decided for you by the party, comrade. It worked for Stalin, anyway.

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