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.