Starbucks Campaign Tells Baristas To Strike Up Race Related Conversations With Customers

| by Karen Eisenberg
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Starbucks, along with USA today, have launched a controversial campaign called “Race Together” which is meant to encourage customers to discuss race. Customers are receiving their drinks in coffee cups with the hashtag  #“Race Together” personally handwritten in black marker by the baristas themselves.   

According to Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz, the campaign “is an opportunity to begin to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society — one conversation at a time."

Two million copies of a free USA Today newspaper section will be distributed by the coffee chain today and throughout the weekend. According to the Starbucks website, the USA Today section will include an “unconscious bias” experiment – exploring the attitudes and beliefs that guide us through society. Also included is a diversity index that asks "what is the chance that the next person I meet will be different from me?”

The “Race Together” campaign has received a great deal of backlash from the public. Starbucks vice president of communications, Corey duBrowa, deleted his Twitter account on Tuesday night after receiving a barrage of negative comments.

“I was personally attacked through my Twitter account around midnight last night and the tweets represented a distraction from the respectful conversation we are trying to start around Race Together. I’ll be back on Twitter soon, duBrowa told Business Insider.

Critic of the campaign, assistant professor at Howard University School of Law, Jasbir Kaur Bawa, added her thoughts on “Race Together” recently.

“It suggests that Starbucks, not their own communities and their own sense of identity, is what empowers them. Doing so not only gives a disproportionately loud voice to the clientele who can afford to buy Starbucks’ coffee, it also overlooks the very real economic disparities inherent between Starbucks‘ clientele and its staff.” 

Twitter user, @ReignOfApril, wrote, “Not sure what @Starbucks was thinking. I don't have time to explain 400 years of oppression to you & still make my train. #RaceTogether.”

Starbucks responded to the backlash with this tweet, “It's worth a little discomfort. Here's the what and the why of #RaceTogether.

Sources: Washington Times, Starbucks website, Fox News

Photo: Flickr