Starbucks Announces New Policy: Sit All Day for Free if You Want (Black People, Too)

Illustration for article titled Starbucks Announces New Policy: Sit All Day for Free if You Want (Black People, Too)
Photo: Christopher Furlong (Getty Images)

Given the recent spike in awareness around implicit bias, and the dubious social media stardom for those who choose to act racistly, Starbucks on Saturday announced a new policy that allows black people anyone to sit in its stores or use its restrooms, regardless of whether they buy anything.

One could argue that the sea change in seeing all of these “living while black but being punished for it” stories started with the high-profile (and brand-damaging) incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks a mere five weeks ago, when two black men were arrested after a barista called the police on them for asking to use a restroom without making a purchase.


In addition to a mandatory anti-bias training that all Starbucks employees are to receive on May 29, Starbucks has mandated that its workers consider anyone who walks into its stores a customer, “regardless of whether they make a purchase,” according to the Associated Press.

The company said that anyone can use any of its spaces, including its cafés, patios or restrooms, without buying anything, but noted that workers should still call the police if someone poses a safety threat.

“We are committed to creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome,” Starbucks said in a statement.


The two black men involved in the initial incident, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, settled with Starbucks last month for an undisclosed amount and an offer of a free college education. They also reached a deal with the city of Philadelphia for a measly $1 and a $200,000 program for youths.

Starbucks got in front of this and did the right thing posthaste. As for the Philadelphia police …

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


I want to see if this policy applies in New York City where you always need to buy something and punch in a code to use a bathroom that resembles a landfill. They are not going to want all the homeless people clogging up tables like the library. As for Starbucks, they need to hire more Black managers and have employees report when they see racism/sexism in the workplace. A training alone is not going to solve the problems.