It’s bad enough that a cup of coffee or your other beverage of choice at Starbucks could burn a hole in your pocket on a daily basis. But what if you were also subjected to a conversation on race relations started by a Starbucks barista? Well, that’s what Starbucks campaign #RaceTogether is all about.
But people aren’t exactly pleased with it.
“If a customer asks you what this is, try to engage in a discussion that we have problems in this country in regards to race,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a video to the company’s baristas. “We believe that we are better than this, and we believe that our country is better than this.”
If Schultz really thinks people want to talk about race while they order their soy latte with two shots of espresso first thing in the morning, social media has proved him wrong.
Corey duBrowa, Starbucks’ senior vice president of global communications, couldn’t take the heat online when people started tweeting him with their complaints about #RaceTogether. When everything got too hot, duBrowa even shut down his account for most of the day on Tuesday, but he reactivated it, with an explanatory post on Medium:
So no matter how ugly the discussion has been since I shut my account down, I’m reaffirming my belief in the power of meaningful, civil, thoughtful, respectful open conversation — on Twitter and everywhere else. I believe in it personally, and Starbucks believes in it at the core of our company’s values. It’s this belief that led us to host a series of open forums with our partners [Starbucks calls it employees “partners”] in some of the communities most affected by the recent flareups of racial tension across the country. In those meetings, we heard loud and clear that we, as a company, have an opportunity to engage on this topic, no matter how difficult.
Starbucks has to be kidding itself if it really thinks people want to talk about race with their baristas, a lot of whom are actually millennials. And do you want to know who are less tolerant when it comes to race? Ding! Millennials. So yeah, I’ll pass on that. Just make my hot chocolate and don’t screw up my name.