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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4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

Increasing Evidence Points to Music as a Potential Solution to the Mental Health Problem.


Okay, You caught me!

I am NOT just talking about everybody's favorite actor-turned-rapper— or second, if you've seen Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video. Unfortunately, current research hasn't explored specific genres and artists. However, studies HAVE provided significant evidence in possibilities for music to treat mental health disorders. Now, before you say something that your parents would not be proud of, ask yourself if you can really blame me for wanting to get your attention. This is an urgent matter concerning each one of us. If we all face the truth, we could very well reach one step closer to solving one of society's biggest problems: Mental Health.

The Problem:

As our nation continues to bleed from tragedies like the horrific shooting that shattered the lives of 70 families whose loved ones just wanted to watch the "Dark Knight Rises" during its first hours of release, as well as the traumatic loss of seventeen misfortunate innocents to the complications of mental health disorders in the dear city of Parkland— a city mere hours from our very own community— it's impossible to deny the existence of mental illness. As many of us can already vouch, mental illness is much more common than what most would think: over 19 million adults in America suffer from a mental health disorder. Picture that: a population slightly less than that of Florida is plagued by hopelessness, isolation, and utter despair.

Disease in the form of depression holds millions of people prisoner, as anxieties instill crippling desperation and too many struggles with finding peace. This can be you. It could be your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your friend, your roommate, your fraternity brother, your sorority sister, your lab partner, or just your classmate that sits in the corner of the lecture hall with a head buried into a notebook that camouflages all emotion.

I hope we— the UCF community— understand the gravity of the problem, but it's clear that some still see mental illness as a disease that affects only a handful of "misfits" who "terrorize" our streets, while the numbers reveal more to the issue. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. The problem is so serious that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds. While many continue to ask for more antidepressants and even the occasional "proper spanking," recent studies indicate increases in occurrence, such as one in depression from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. So, clearly, none of that is working.

The Evidence:

If we really want to create a world where our children are free from the chains of mental illness, we need to think outside the box. Doctors and scientists won't really talk about this since it's still a growing field of research, but music has strong potential. We don't have any options at the moment, which means we need to change our mindset about music and to continue to explore its medicinal benefits. If you're still skeptical because of the title, then please consider these 4 pieces of solid evidence backed by scientific research:

1. Music has been proven to improve disorders like Parkinson's Disease.

Researchers sponsored by the National Institute of Health— the country's largest research agency— saw an improvement in the daily function of patients with Parkinson's Disease. This makes patients shake uncontrollably, which often prevents them from complete functionality. The disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine— a chemical your neurons, or brain cells, release; since music treats this shortage, there's an obvious ability to increase dopamine levels. As numerous studies connect dopamine shortages to mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and ADHD, someone could possibly use music's proven ability to increase dopamine levels to treat said problems.

2. Listening to the music has the potential to activate your brain's "reward center."

In 2013, Valorie Salimpoor and fellow researchers conducted a study that connected subjects' pleasure towards music to a specific part of the brain. This key structure, the nucleus accumbens, is the body's "reward center," which means all of you have experienced its magical powers. In fact, any time the brain detects a rewarding sensation— drinking ice-cold water after a five-mile run in sunny, humid Florida, eating that Taco Bell chalupa after a long happy hour at Knight's Library, and even consuming recreational drugs— this structure releases more of that fantastic dopamine. So, with further research into specifics, doctors may soon be prescribing your daily dose of tunes for your own health.

3. Listening to Music may be more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medication.

In 2013, Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin— two accomplished doctors in psychology— reviewed a study wherein patients waiting to undergo surgery were given either anti-anxiety medications or music to listen to. The study took into account cortisol levels, which are used daily by healthcare professionals to gauge patient levels. This "stress hormone" was actually found to be lower in patients who listened to classical music rather those who took the recommended dose of prescription drugs. Sit there and think about that for a second: these patients actually felt more relaxed with something as simple as MUSIC than with chemicals that are made specifically to force patients into relaxation before surgery. Why pop a Xanax when you can just listen to Beethoven?

4. Music may release the chemicals that help you naturally relax and feel love.

Further studies continue to justify music's place in the medical world as results demonstrate increases in substances such as prolactin— a hormone that produces a relaxing sensation— as well as oxytocin— the substance that promotes warmth and happiness during a hug between mother and child. So this study basically showed us that music has the potential to actually make you feel the way you did when Mom or Dad would embrace you with the warmest hug you've ever felt.

The Future:

The evidence I present you with today is ultimately just a collection of individual situations where specific people found specific results. There are a lot of variables when it comes to any research study; therefore, data is never truly certain. We should take these findings as strong suggestions to a possible solution, but we must remember the possibility of failure in our search.

The neurochemistry behind the music and its medicinal properties is just beginning to unfold before the scientific community. In fact, extremely qualified scientists from the National Institute of Health— the organization that basically runs any important medical study in the United States— continue to remind us of the subject's youth with the constant use of "potential" behind any and all of their findings. Therefore, it's our responsibility as a community to look into this— not just that of the scientists at the National Institute of Health.

We're all surrounded by music. It's at the bars. It's in our ears during all-night sessions at the UCF library. It's keeping us awake through East Colonial traffic at 7:00 AM while hordes of students focus on their cell phone screens instead of the paved roads ahead. It's in the shoes we wear, the actions we take, and the words we say. IF YOU'RE READING THIS: it's accessible to you. So, don't be shy, and try to play with your Spotify account, or even just on YouTube, and gauge the power of music. As more and more of us see the light, we can promote the movement and carry on as more research comes out to support us.

Drop the bars, drop those addictive pills that destroy your body slowly, and pick up your headphones and press PLAY.

Just relax, close your eyes, smile, and live.

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A Guide To Life: Justice

Part 2 of a 14 part series on how the virtues can guide your life.


*This is part of a series of articles covering virtues, and how they can help you live a better life. Part 1 can be found here.

In part one of this series, I wrote about prudence, or, knowing and doing what is good. Knowing and doing what is good is important to living a better life because it helps us avoid mistakes and make good choices, which matters because mistakes and bad choices lead to a worse life.

But life is about more than just doing what is good; it is also about doing what is right. That is why the next part of this series covers the second Cardinal virtue, Justice.

Justice is important to living a better life because it is a great way to govern your actions with other people.

So what is Justice?

Justice is essentially giving people what they deserve or what they are due, i.e. what is rightfully theirs.

To an extent, it is where the concept of the justice system comes from. In theory, the justice system is responsible for giving people what they deserve because that is what is right or just.

It's important to understand that Justice is about what is actually deserved, not what is presented as deserved. Basically, for something to actually be Justice, you have to give people what they are actually due or what is actually theirs, not what they say or others say they are due.

That can be complex because distinguishing between what the actual situation is and what the perceived situation requires us to make decisions both objectively and subjectively depending on the situation. Hence, Justice takes time to understand because knowing what is right and what people are due requires a deep understanding of oneself and others.

So how does Justice help you live a better life?

Justice helps you live a better life because it helps you govern your actions with others. If you interact with all people with the understanding that everyone deserves Justice, then you can give everyone what is rightfully theirs.

Justice and the "Golden Rule" essentially leads to the "Platinum Rule" of treating others how they want to be treated.

Don't just use Justice in the sense of judgment, but use it to guide all of your actions with others.

So how do I gain Justice?

There is no real easy way to gain the virtue of Justice. It just takes understanding what people's rights are and what they are owed, and practicing giving others those things.

It takes time to gain this virtue, but you will know when you have it.

So a quick recap of the first two Cardinal virtues: Prudence is doing what is good and Justice is doing what is right.

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