Starbucks plans to offer managers bias training
More protests held at Philly shop where 2 black men arrested
Philadelphia – Starbucks wants to add training for store managers on “unconscious bias,” CEO Kevin Johnson said Monday, as activists held more protests at a Philadelphia store where two black men were arrested after employees said they were trespassing.
Johnson, who has called the arrests “reprehensible,” arrived in Philadelphia this weekend after video of the incident gained traction online. He said he hopes to meet with the two men in the next couple of days and apologize face to face.
“I’d like to have a dialogue with them and the opportunity to listen to them with compassion and empathy through the experience they went through,” said Johnson, who has been CEO for about a year. Stewart Cohen, the lawyer for the two men, said he hopes “something productive for the community” can come out of such a meeting.
The incident is a major blow to Starbucks’ image, since the company has promoted its coffee shops as neighborhood hangouts where anyone is welcome. After a video of the arrests spread online, the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks trended on Twitter.
And on Monday morning, about two dozen protesters took over the Philadelphia shop, chanting slogans like, “A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Starbucks coffee is anti-black.” A Starbucks regional vice president who attempted to talk to the protesters was shouted down.
“We don’t want this Starbucks to make any money today. That’s our goal,” said Abdul-Aliy Muhammad, one of the protest organizers and co-founder of the Black and Brown Workers Collective.
Over the weekend, demonstrators called for the firing of the employee who contacted police, who arrested the men on Thursday. Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment about the employment status of the manager who called police.
Officials have said the officers were told the men had asked to use the store’s restroom but were denied because they hadn’t bought anything, and they refused to leave.
Video shows several police talking quietly with two black men seated at a table. After a few minutes, officers handcuff the men and lead them outside as other customers say they weren’t doing anything wrong. A white man identified as real estate developer Andrew Yaffe arrives and
nected to other people (he remembers the bodega cashier’s name) — and more present in the moment.
“I’m way more conscious of my surroundings than if I was on my screen,” he said. “I have friends who struggle looking at a subway map. I think people should throw their phone away. It would be good for them.”
Cochet admits there are sacrifices. The phone has a shoddy camera and no group texting or ride-sharing apps, but he copes just fine. No Uber? A car service is on speed dial. No Venmo? He always has cash. And Cochet is by no means entirely disconnected. He uses his laptop at night to check email, browse the web and
watch Netflix. (He’s a big fan of “Black Mirror.”) He listens to podcasts on a $25 MP3 player.
“I’m dismantling what the iPhone can do into different objects,” he said.
Jim Thatcher, 37, a professor of geospatial technologies at the University of Washington Tacoma, switched to a flip phone a year ago after his smartphone broke.
“I tried to go without a phone for about three weeks,” he said. “However, with two kids, there’s an expectation that I’m reachable if something goes wrong, so I ordered the cheapest Verizon flip phone I could find on eBay. I’ve had it since then.”
Thatcher is active on social media but he uses devices other than his phone to access his accounts. “I wanted to be more purposeful in how I engaged in my day-to-day life,” Thatcher said. “I found myself staring at my phone more than I was out hanging with my kids.”
If ditching your smartphone completely feels too extreme, there’s an in-between option: the Light Phone, the self-described “anti-smartphone phone.”
The first Light Phone went on sale in 2015. The latest version is in testing now and slated for release next year. It’s just as pleasing to look at as the iPhone, but reduces your apps to a handful such as calls, messaging, GPS, contacts and ride-hailing. It won’t have social media, a browser or email.
More than 4,000 people have pre-ordered the Light Phone 2, according to company CEO Kaiwei Tang. He expects that figure to increase to more than 10,000, which is the number of people who bought the original Light Phone.
Jennifer Bennetch and her son Yusuf Williams-Bey protest outside the Starbucks at 18th & Spruce streets in Philadelphia, Monday.