Starbucks Closing

Registered Trademark of Starbucks

Registered Trademark of Starbucks

Sydney Kaltman, Online Editor

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This month, Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee chain, will close all of its locations in the United States to give seminars to its over 150,000 employees about racism. The event is in response to a viral YouTube video of two African American men arrested in a Philadelphia location of the chain. The men were meeting at Starbucks to discuss real estate, but when one of them tried to use the restroom, an employee denied him access because he had not made a purchase. The worker then proceeded to call the police, who came and arrested the men for “trespassing.” They were taken to jail and held until after midnight.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” Kevin R. Johnson, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement announcing the company’s racial sensitivity training. The goal of the training is to inform all employees of racial sensitivity, and try to be proactive in assuring this kind of terrible situation does not occur again in the future. As stated in New York Times, the training will address implicit bias, the company said on Tuesday, with input from groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Anti-Defamation League.
Implicit bias is a sort of stereotype; it is the automatic association that people have in their minds about a specific group of people. “The Starbucks situation provides dangerous insight regarding the failure of our nation to take implicit bias seriously,” said the NAACP’s president and CEO Derrick Johnson in a statement following the Philadelphia incident. “When [the employees] are busy doing their job, they’re distracted. The biases are still going to be operative and influence them unless you change the practices and the policies,” says Jack Glaser, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley.
“The bottom line is we don’t know how to change the biases in a meaningful, lasting way because they’re …the way we think normally and they’re based on years of exposure. So in the absence of being able to change them, we need to change the way people make decisions and the way that they act.” The racial sensitivity training will be given on May 29th, causing every Starbucks location in the United States to close. This is just a small price to pay to teach the employees a priceless lesson about human and civil rights.