The Starbucks Scandal and Why You Shouldn't Call the Cops on Black People

The Starbucks Scandal and Why You Shouldn't Call the Cops on Black People

It does more harm than good. Trust me.

An incident that took place at a Starbucks in Philadelphia on Thursday, April 12th sparked protests as two black men were arrested for “loitering.” The two men were waiting in the store for their friend who was going to have a meeting with them about real estate investments. One of the men asked to use the bathroom and the employee said the bathroom is for customers only. It isn’t exactly clear what happened in the store but we do know that an employee called the cops on the men for not ordering.

There are a lot of issue with this situation especially considering my own personal experiences as a white person. People meet at coffee shops all the time for business or dates or hanging out and Starbucks is no stranger to that environment. I, as a white person, have gone to a lot of businesses to just be somewhere and not eat their food. I’ve bought tacos at 711 and ate them in the back of a Panda Express. I’ve gone to Wendy’s and brought my food to the McDonald’s next door because the place look nicer and I’ve never been kicked out. People do this all the time. And as someone who works part-time in the food industry, it’s something you deal with because it doesn’t matter. Telling someone to leave if they honestly aren’t causing any real trouble isn’t worth the time and effort.

Another big issue with this scenario is how the call immediately ended with arrest. The clip that went viral shows police officers arresting the two men while their friend is trying to explain the situation. Again, we don’t quite know how much time had occurred between the call, the police showing up and the friend showing up, we can estimate that the entire scenario happened in a fifteen minute time window since they were meeting up with someone. That is still not a lot of time spent figuring out the situation which means the police didn’t take time to think whether or not arresting them was really necessary.

The thing is, a police call does not require arrest. I know this first hand from having to call the cops on a person myself. For context, I was dealing with a drunk person in my home who had been acting aggressively towards me and the call was a last resort. An important thing to note is that the drunk person was white. When the cops came, they questioned us individually about the situation and reasoned with him as to why he needs to calm down. They didn’t immediately arrest him even though he was an aggressor. They didn’t threaten him even though he was being drunk and condescending. They just went on with their night.

If we compare these two scenarios, mine being a little bit more extreme because I had been dealing with an aggressive drunk person, compared to two people who were allegedly loitering in Starbucks, we can see that an arrest was severe. Nothing violent happened to them during the arrest because the two held a calm demeanor, even though they knew they did nothing wrong. However, being arrested is a terrifying and traumatic experience for anyone, but especially if you are a person of color.

To me, it’s very obvious that the call was unnecessary, though for some reason other people are reluctant to agree. But this situation is not new. White people tend to view police differently than black people do. We tend to view them as a solution to the problem rather than the reason for all of the problems. A white women in the suburbs doesn’t see an issue with calling the cops on the black person walking by her house. The white boy doesn’t see the problem on calling the cops on a black person getting in a fight at a party. White people just don’t see the harm in getting the cops involved in a situation like people of color do because we’ve had the police on our sides. Even in our most messed up situations where we did need to call the cops, we don’t realize how much it could have escalated if we were people of color or if people of color were involved. But that’s something we need to consider especially if the situation involved a non-violent crime like loitering where police force isn’t necessary, where no ones lives are actually in danger.

A lot of people are saying that the Starbucks employee wasn’t racially profiling, but they were. They absolutely were. Starbucks is very much a white store. Sure there are customers of color, but it appeals to the basic white suburban community. They are very specific to the types of customers they cater to and maybe they aren’t as out about it as maybe some sports bar in the middle of Alabama, there’s still that subtle racism that I wouldn’t notice since it’s not something I have to think about as a white individual.

If you work part-time in food service or retail, you profile your customers. When a white women with highlights comes into your store, you wonder how long it'll take for her to ask for your manager. When a person of color, specifically a black man, comes into your store, automatically you profile him. You look at his clothes and you pay attention to what kind of phone he has as if that says something about whether or not he lives somewhere. You look at your tip jar and you wonder if he’ll notice if you move it away from him in case he tries to steal from it. Maybe you’re not even having these thought consciously, maybe they’re just quick passing thoughts, but what you’re brain is doing is assessing danger that you think is there because society taught you it’s there. It’s screwed up, but we do it and we need to be more aware of it.

A call for boycott of Starbucks stores has been made on twitter. The Starbucks executive has issued an apology to the two that were arrested. Starbucks is closing U.S. stores on May 29th to have racial bias training.

Cover Image Credit: pexels

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.


Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.


I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.


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