Starbucks closed 8,000 stores to train employees on racial sensitivity

Starbucks closed 8,000 stores to train employees on racial sensitivity

What will the outcome be?

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On May 29th, Starbucks closed 8,000 of US stores for anti-bias training. This training was a response to allegations of racism that took place in Starbucks stores last month.

One of these racist incidences took place in Philadelphia at the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce Street.

Two African American men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested for trespassing when they sat in Starbucks quietly to wait for a friend. According to The Guardian, the manager called the police because the two young men sat down without placing an order.

The two men were arrested but were released hours later. Starbucks did not press charges.

However, On-lookers were disgusted.

Philly writer and activist Melissa DePino was in Starbucks during the incident. She tweeted:

She also shared a live video of the arrest.

A couple of days later, another racist incident in a Starbucks near Los Angeles, CA made national news. According to Pricilla Hernandez, Pedro Hernandez ordered two drinks from the barista. Instead of writing Pedro as the name on the cup, the barista wrote beaner. According to CNN and other sources, beaner is a derogatory term for Mexican Americans. Pricilla was obviously upset about the incident, so much so, that she reached out to Starbucks on Twitter. Starbucks replied to Pricilla's tweet:

So it's because of incidents like this Starbucks stores closed last Wednesday: to “teach employees about being tolerant to customers." But this begs the question:

Does Starbucks aim to be a community gathering, or nah?

Our community is more than one race, to say the least. So it's going to take more than a couple hours of training to teach employees about tolerance. I thought that tolerance and respect were no-brainers, but sadly I was mistaken.

I am very surprised the two young men did not sue for more than the “ symbolic" $1 each and the $200,000 that will go to build youth programs in Philadelphia , and they may have- per the undisclosed amount awarded to them by Starbucks. At any rate, the desire to give back shows a lot about the young men' character.

And another question- will this “sensitivity" training work or nah?

I hope that Starbucks' employees learn to respect their customers. Although it does not shock me that blatant racism is still taking place in our community, it does shock me that some Starbucks employees felt the need to openly discriminate against customers with no bother to the repercussions it may have. I think it will take more than a couple hours of training is a good start, but this training should definitely be ongoing for the entire staff.

Anyone who enters a place of business deserves to be respected. I really hope this is the last time I see a racial incident in Starbucks' stores.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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My Small Town Upbringing Taught Me To Accept Everyone As They Are, Regardless Of Color Or Creed

We were all friends and it really didn't matter who identified as what or who was what color because we didn't see any of that, it just didn't matter.

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I know a lot of people say that once you go to college you'll never want to come back home. I thought I was going to be that person for sure, but I was wrong. It's common for people to get a little homesick while they're staying away at school, but the stigma that college makes you forget about where you come from still exists. I've always been one of those people that think, no matter what, you should NEVER forget about where you came from. Where you come from determines a lot about who you are as an individual and plays a part in where you may be now. Whether you're in school, in the workforce, or joined the military, it's crucial to remember your roots.

I come from a textbook definition smalltown, called Palmyra. When I say "textbook definition," I mean the everybody-knows-everybody kind of town where you are recognized as "So and so's son/daughter." Most of my family members went to my town's high school, so I was known in that school before I even went there. I graduated with less than 70 kids (yes, really) who I've pretty much gone to school with since I was in kindergarten. So, it's safe to say that my town is pretty small and my description of my town as being "textbook definition small town" is accurate.

When I came to Rutgers University, I knew it was big, but I did not let my "small-town mentality" get in the way of adapting to my new life here. In fact, I could not wait to come to Rutgers and start somewhere new. I could not wait to escape my town. I needed to get away. Everyone always told me that as soon as I went away to school, I would never want to come back. I surely thought the same way, but I can honestly say that those people and myself, were wrong. I have never appreciated being from Palmyra more than I do now.

Although I graduated with such a small amount of kids, a lot of us were like family. And because of that, none of us realized our differences. I'm not saying that we were all the same because that's far from the truth. However, because we were such a tight-knit class, we never really experienced any diversity issues. I'm sure a lot of people say the same about their town because everyone likes to look past the issues, but Palmyra really did not have any exclusivity. Even teachers from Palmyra would say all the time that the kids from Palmyra High School are just simply nice. We aimed to include everyone because each other was all that we had and it's pretty much all we knew.

We were all friends and it really didn't matter who identified as what or who was what color because we didn't see any of that, it just didn't matter.

We all realized that not many kids can say they know every single kid they graduated with, so we took our size, which many people would view as a downfall, and we ran with it… we made it something BIG.

You would think that coming from such a small town, you wouldn't experience any diversity. Comparably, you would think that going to such a big university, like Rutgers, you would experience diversity in all aspects of your education. Surprisingly enough, that's not true. It seems as though Rutgers tries almost too hard to push the diversity aspect that it just draws attention to the fact that many students at Rutgers come from many different races and ethnicities, which ultimately gives kids the incentive to break off into their familiar groups. We acknowledge the fact that physically we are diverse, but in actuality, the groups formed among the study body do not mingle.

A lot of kids that go to Rutgers are not used to being exposed to such diversity.

For example, many kids I have talked to at Rutgers came from schools where they graduated with hundreds and hundreds of kids and a lot of those kids experienced things that I could never relate to. I had one friend tell me that kids at his school used to have parties where only the white kids would go and other parties only the black kids would go because that's just how their school was. The black kids typically hung out with other black kids and the white kids typically hung out with other white kids. Or there are some kids here that I have talked to that said their school was predominately one thing or the other. In Palmyra, we're made up of everything. Not even race-wise, but with anything. We all just hung out together and no one seemed to think twice about it.

It's crazy to me that even with such small numbers, Palmyra kids were exposed to so much.

Most people, when I tell them my class size, react in almost a disgusted way, as if my town being small was a disadvantage. But, as I compare some of my experiences with others at Rutgers, it seems as though my small number has a lot more than other people's big numbers. This is not to say that Palmyra is better than anywhere else, but I feel as though being from a small town is looked down upon when it needs to be glorified for all that it is. With such small numbers, we managed to form a family that is not split apart by our obvious differences. Everyone found their niche and felt comfortable being in their own skin. Being at Rutgers, I recognize things about my personality and the way I view things that can be attributed back to my small town upbringing

Even though our numbers are small, our views aren't. So, to my palmyra fam, or any small town people who can relate, never forget your small town roots. You'll be thankful for them when you realize that big things can come in small packages. And, as cliche as it is to say, there really is no place like home.

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