Is Starbucks Really So Stupid?
After one of its managers called for the police to arrest two black men for “sitting without ordering” in one of its stores, Starbucks responded with a plan to close its 8,000 U.S. stores on May 29 for employee training on the subject of implicit racial bias and its role in discrimination. It was a bold move designed to garner media attention and make customers think that the company takes racism seriously, but the reality of Starbucks’ actions indicates the opposite.
What brought Starbucks to the point of closing its stores for a day is the arrest of two black men in one of its Philadelphia stores on April 12. What happened is a subject of controversy between the two sides, but all agree that the two 23-year-old men involved were not bothering anyone. They were in the store, had apparently asked to use a bathroom and had not purchased anything. They say they were waiting for a business meeting. The store says it repeatedly asked the two men to leave. When the men refused, the store management had them arrested.
The episode created a public relations nightmare for Starbucks, as a video taken of the arrest went viral.
It showed police coming in, demanding that the two men leave or be charged with trespassing and then arresting and handcuffing them in the store after they said they were not doing anything wrong.
In a tweet from Melissa Depino, one of the individuals who was in the store when it all went down and who posted a video of the confrontation and the arrest, she said, “The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did [finally arrive] as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing.”
The two men were put in a local jail cell and held there until after midnight. They were released when the local district attorney said he would not be prosecuting them for trespassing.
As word of the arrest spread and the video itself was seen by more people, many across the entire country became angry over what they saw as a clear case of racial discrimination. A national boycott against
Starbucks was being called for by multiple activist groups.
As the PR situation became worse for Starbucks, executives at the company decided they needed to take immediate action. The problem is that that action was about as wrong as they could have taken.
What Starbucks did was announce it would be closing its stores to hold “racial implicit bias workshops” for all employees of its U.S. stores.
These implicit bias workshops are part of the soft-and-sensitive training approach many companies are now using as a politically correct means to discuss racial bias shown by their employees and with their customers. The concept of “implicit bias,” a psychological term, has some value in the matter because most people have at least one form of bias that they may not even be aware of that creates problems in their judgment. That implicit bias operates in the background without our knowledge but still informs our decisions and how we deal with others.
As an example of this in the case of racial discrimination, someone with an implicit bias against blacks might tend to hire a white person over a black person despite the two applicants having nearly identical qualifications in every other way.
Such workshops can be valuable because they call attention to the hidden biases embedded in each of us. However, these kinds of workshops are useless for addressing what happened during the April 12 event.
The arrests of the two black men happened only after the Starbucks store manager called the police. It also came with others in the store having full knowledge that non-blacks in the store who had been doing the same thing – “sitting without ordering” – had not been harassed by store management or the subject of calls to the police for an arrest. This was not implicit bias under any way of thinking about it. This was deliberate, calculated racial discrimination, pure and simple. Treating the situation with an implicit bias sensitivity training event for all employees simply whitewashes what happened and will do nothing to instill a real “wake-up” experience for those in the company’s stores who have explicit racial bias guiding their actions.
Here is where Starbucks got really stupid. It hired Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-defamation League (ADL), to develop the implicit bias workshop curriculum. While his knowledge of implicit bias training is not known, what is clear is the ADL’S anti-Palestinian and pro-israel and Jew bias.
The ADL is a powerful Israel-lobbying group that cloaks itself as a human-rights group. Behind its anti-hate messages, it fiercely promotes Israel and its Jewish interests. Based on its actions, Israel is an embodiment of hatred and not just racial implicit bias but extreme overt racial and cultural bias.
Hiring a man who zealously promotes a criminal nation of hate that grossly violates human rights and targets people because of their nationality to develop a course on implicit bias is not just stupid; it is offensive and disgusting. But considering that Starbucks’ billionaire chairman, Howard Schultz, is a Zionist Jew who actively supports Israel, it is not so puzzling.