Is Star­bucks Re­ally So Stupid?

Trillions - - Content -

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.

Photo by Adam Bielawski, CC

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.