How about a side of race relations talk with that cafe mocha? Starbucks’ newest initiative is getting a lot of buzz, however, not the attention the coffee chain hoped to spark.
The company recently launched its “Race Together” initiative urging customers to have conversations on the topic of race relations. Baristas at locations are writing “Race Together” on cups in hopes of starting the dialog.
“As recent racially-charged incidents unfolded across America, Starbucks partners (employees) gathered in six major cities to share their experiences and ideas about moving the country forward.” Starbucks said in press release. “Racial inequality is a topic rarely discussed in a corporate setting and seldom encouraged as a coffee shop conversation.”
However, social media isn’t being too kind to Starbucks pressure on customers to talk about race. Twitter is ablaze with negative feedback about the initiative.
The backlash was so harsh that tweets directed at Starbucks communications VP Corey duBrowa prompted him temporarily delete his Twitter account.
Criticism ranged from the conversation about race being forced to Starbucks’ lack of locations in Black neighborhoods. There have also been attacks on the company only having four people of color (two who are Black) on its 19-person leadership team.
“Wait – is #RaceTogether really just people talking about race over a cup of white privilege,” tweeted Ijeoma Oluo.
Another tweet by the account @stubbscrew allegedly shows a picture of white Starbucks manager calling the police on Black man holding up a sign at a Seattle location.
@KirkSeriousFace tweeted, “Have we taken the time to thank Starbucks for unifying literally everyone behind making fun of their horrible #RaceTogether idea?”
“We ask these corp types to recognize their privilege all the time,” Rapper Talib Kweli tweeted. “It seems that #racetogether is an attempt, maybe misguided, to do so.”
Sabrina Hersi Issa tweeted a photo of a Starbucks cup where she crossed out #RaceTogether and wrote #BlackLivesMatter instead saying, “Nope to #RaceTogether. But here Starbucks I fixed your hashtag.”
Amid the backlash, Starbucks has not shown any signs of pulling the reigns on the initiative.