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A cup of diversity with room for cream, sugar

T. Opinion

Starbucks needs to spend less time getting involved in controversies and more time trying to learn how to spell their customers names correctly.

CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, started a campaign back in March that encouraged baristas to write “Race Together” on coffee cups. He wanted employees to engage in conversations about race and diversity with customers to promote a sensitive social issue that is often overlooked.

Don’t get me wrong, talking about racial inequality is worth every second of discomfort. But is bringing up the issue while trying to order a cup of coffee the right time to do that? Absolutely not.

Now I’m not saying that there’s an “ideal” time to talk about race. It’s obvious that our society has avoided the topic long enough. I’m simply saying that writing two simple words on a cup was not as effective as initially planned.

As genuine as Schultz’s intentions may have been, there are valid reasons as to why the initiative failed after just a couple of days.

Asking customers to engage in conversations about racial inequality before there’s even a cup of coffee in their system is absurd as is their attempt at being politically correct with the solid red cup for Christmas.

Let’s face it, one of the main reasons people walk into Starbucks in the first place is because they are running on a few hours of sleep, and they need caffeine – now.

I highly doubt that people are willing to share their views on Ferguson, police brutality, and white privilege when they can barely manage to keep their eyes open.

America has a long history of oppression; a conversation like this requires in-depth understanding that doesn’t have Taylor Swift’s album playing in the background.

You can’t expect customers to have an in-depth conversation with a Starbucks employee when five impatient customers are in line behind them waiting to place their order. These people have jobs and classes to attend, and heavy traffic to sit through. Let’s not slow them down.

As much as Starbucks emphasized on opening the dialogue about race, it seems that not all of the executives were on board with the idea.

Starbucks Senior Vice President of Communications temporarily deleted his Twitter account due to the tremendous amount of criticism the hashtag #RaceTogether was receiving.

Customers were trying to “open the dialogue” and share their views on the issue through Twitter, but it turned out to be a one-way conversation. That’s a little contradicting, Starbucks.

According to the Washington Post, CEO Schultz shares that he wasn’t expecting universal praise with the initiative. He admitted that discontinuing the campaign was a part of the plan all along.

Another controversy that has gone viral is the company’s decision to have plain red cups this season instead of the infamous holiday cups people look forward to.

A press release from the Vice President of Design and Content at Starbucks explains that the new design is an attempt to “welcome all of our stories.”

A customer decided that instead of boycotting, he would start a movement by posting a video on Facebook. Joshua Feuerstein, a former pastor, ordered a drink at Starbucks, and when the employee asked for his name he said it was Merry Christmas to trick the employee into writing it on his cup.

Starbucks responded to Feuerstein’s video by stating that the company wants “to create a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity.”

I’m all for those things, but Starbucks needs to come up with better strategies. It should be up to the people to tell Starbucks employees if they want to talk about diversity or just have their coffee.


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A cup of diversity with room for cream, sugar