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?


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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Videos Of Police Brutality: Harmful Or Helpful?

How have these viral videos affected America?


Freddie Gray. Michael Brown. Sam Dubose. Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. Lavon King. Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. We've all heard the names of these black men, and countless more, whose lives were ripped away from them. Not only have we heard their names, but many of us have seen them take their last breaths and heard their haunting last words.

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"I don't have a gun. Stop shooting."

"Why did you shoot me."

Over the years, videos of unarmed black Americans being shot by the police have gone viral in the media. We all remember the grainy photos of lynchings and the black and white photos and videos depicting the police abusing black people. But, to us, that was the past. It wasn't the America we lived in. Those images were decades ago; we lived in an America that had grown past this violence as law enforcement was viewed as the men and women in the television series "Cops." However, the viral videos of police killings have shown us otherwise.

In this new technological age, it is easy to simply pull out your phone, record a video, and post it all in the span of two minutes. The body and dashboard cameras also help to document this abuse, and it becomes more publicly available. These graphic videos gain attention as police brutality is debated on Twitter timelines and Facebook feeds. In some ways, these videos are very helpful, educating the public on the violence against black people by law enforcement that has been prevalent for decades. They have helped start civic protests and gained media attention. They provide a shock value and forces the public to have a conversation on this epidemic. But, they haven't slowed down the rates of these killings or made officers more accountable. The video is posted, there is outrage, a cop's "punishment" is paid suspension, and the cycle starts back over again.

After years of seeing similar videos of unarmed black citizens having their lives unjustly taken away, one starts to become numb to this violence. The constant exposure desensitizes viewers and can cause trauma. Young black kids are seeing people who look like them being murdered by a force that's supposed to protect them. They watch the deaths again and again, hearing the victims' last words begging for their lives or questioning what warranted this violence against them. This increases their fear that they, or someone they know, could possibly be the next hashtag.

My parents have taught me how to act when I'm pulled over. "No sudden movements. Always tell their officer exactly what you're gonna do before you do it. Don't reach for your registration too abruptly, you could scare them." Whenever I'm pulled over, I hold my breath scared that one wrong word or one wrong move could turn a situation violent. That I could become another hashtag, people arguing over my death before another hashtag is made. When my brother or father gets pulled over I'm terrified for them, too.

When videos of black death are being played on a loop and often times becomes unavoidable, the videos lose their shock value. Viewers have seen the same scenario played out with different people, so they become numb to this violence. The family members of the victims are surrounded by the footage of these senseless killings. It somehow becomes almost normal. In 2015 when news reporters Alison Parker and Adam Ward were killed on television, the media decided the video was too graphic and violent to be shown. So, what separates them from the black Americans whose last moments are broadcasted on every outlet?

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