NAACP State­ment on Star­bucks: A grow­ing cli­mate of racism and in­tol­er­ance

South Florida Times - - OPINION - Der­rick John­son, NAACP Pres­i­dent and CEO

The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple (NAACP), the na­tion’s premier civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tion, is­sued the fol­low­ing state­ment fol­low­ing the dis­grace­ful ar­rest of two African Amer­i­can men in a Philadel­phia Star­bucks.

“The ar­rest of two black men at a Philadel­phia Star­bucks rep­re­sents an­other omi­nous sig­nal on the in­creas­ingly dan­ger­ous en­vi­ron­ment for African Amer­i­cans. Less than two weeks af­ter we honor the life and work of Dr. King and 50 years af­ter the Ker ner Com­mis­sion found racism and po­lice bru­tal­ity at the root of pub­lic un­rest in our com­mu­ni­ties; we still have a long way to go to­wards be­com­ing a na­tion where a per­son is judged by the con­tent of their char­ac­ter not the color of their skin.

“The Star­bucks sit­u­a­tion pro­vides dan­ger­ous in­sight re­gard­ing the f ail­ure of our na­tion to take im­plicit bias se­ri­ously. We refuse to be­lieve that our un­con­scious bias –the racism we are of­ten un­aware of—can and does make its way into our ac­tions and poli­cies.

“We know if two black men in Philadel­phia re­quire six po­lice of­fi­cers to hand­cuff and ar­rest them for wait­ing to or­der cof­fee, then we be­gin to un­der­stand the mind­state that al­lows for such overzeal­ous and re­ac­tionary use of deadly force by those who are paid to serve and pro­tect.

“Ev­ery day peo­ple of color find them­selves at the mercy of the stereo­types and embed­ded fears of oth­ers. How else can we ex­plain why 14-year-old Bren­nan Walker who missed his bus on his way to school would be shot at by a home­owner just out­side Detroit? Or ex­plain Sa­heed Vas­sell, a men­tally-ill man in Brook­lyn fired at ten times and shot dead by po­lice of­fi­cers. Or why Stephon Clark was shot at 20 times and hit eight times mainly in the back by po­lice of­fi­cers in Sacramento, based on the as­sump­tion that he was the cul­prit re­spon­si­ble for break­ing into cars. We are at least glad in the case of Star­bucks that no one mis­took a wallet for a gun.”

“All too of­ten these is­sues are dis­cussed in pass­ing episodic ways by me­dia. Racism and bi­ases that make sim­ply breath­ing while black so dan­ger­ous will not just go away with­out our so­ci­ety com­mit­ting more re­sources to dis­cus­sion, ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing on im­plicit bias and racism. If we refuse to, we’ll con­tinue to face the con­se­quences of our fail­ure to do so.”

You too, Star­bucks? Once con­sid­ered a ‘safe’ ter­ri­tory, this past week set off a round of out­rage and calls for eco­nomic boy­cotts against the busi­ness. Why? Two black men were ar­rested for not obey­ing the po­lice who were called for a loi­ter­ing com­plaint at a Star­bucks store. Loi­ter­ing in Star­bucks? No such thing can pos­si­bly hap­pen since the com­pany it­self is­sues an open in­vi­ta­tion to the pub­lic to do just that. It’s part of their cul­tural pro­file: to have the pub­lic come in to join the larger com­mu­nity of oth­ers gath­ered in the store; to stay for as long as you like.

But this is a racist Amer­ica where too many folks con­tinue to feel en­ti­tled to mis­treat an­other per­son be­cause of their ‘oth­er­ness’seem­ing, those who are just not white enough.

Re­mem­ber the ad cam­paign: “Do blonds have more fun?” It may not be PC to­day, but we have not got­ten very far away from that no­tion, and the pro­mo­tions in sup­port of that con­cept.

Per­haps a bit sub­tler, but what con­tin­ues to hap­pen in Amer­ica with many de­scen­dants of the Euro­pean found­ing fa­thers, is re­in­force­ments of their be­lief of su­pe­ri­or­ity and en­ti­tle­ment.

There are some in the me­dia, and other places of thought-ex­change, who have sug­gested that the rise of “Trump­ism”: a new re­li­gious zeal for ev­ery­thing be­com­ing ‘whiter-greater, again, is to blame. That’s too easy. Be­sides, I don’t want to give ‘45’ any ad­di­tional power.

Yet, there is some­thing to be said about the lin­ger­ing, barely be­neath the sur­face, of racism, and the sick, mind dis­ease of think­ing that any­one is less than you; or that you Con­tact Us 954.356.9360 • 2701 W Oak­land Park Blvd, Suite 320 • Oak­land Park, FL 33311 • www.SFLTimes.com

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