Okay so unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that on Tuesday, May 29th Starbucks closed ALL 8,000 of their US stores at 1 pm to hold a 4 hour racial bias training.
Louder for those in the back!
They closed ALL of their US stores for a company wide 4 hour racial bias training!
Lets pause for a second and really ingest that because it is significant. In a world full of thoughts and prayers and well wishes, action is an extremely refreshing step in the right direction.
Growing up as a black woman has its challenges, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but the world has proven itself to be uncaring, hostile, and simply put unfair to people of color. We are thought of as less than, animals, the help, and unworthy of basic respect and dignity. More and more you see videos on social media and in the news showing unjust bigotry and hate against black and brown people and when the ignorant are confronted, you see tears, misplaced blame, a lack of accountability, hastily written twitter apologies, suspensions with pay and full pensions, and private undisclosed settlements. None of these reactions provides a step forward, if anything they only produce a figurative and temporary sweeping under the rug until the next atrocity is publicized. The ever-turning cycle continues. Until now.
A story that is all too familiar to anyone who has been followed around a store or teated differently when dining out, two black men were arrested when they were sitting down in a Starbucks in Philadelphia. The two men were waiting for a friend and had not purchased anything and due to ignorance and bias fueled by stereotypes, the employee decided that the best course of action to make themselves feel more comfortable would be to call the police. Now, before I go any further, can we please stop using the emergency hotline for non-emergency situations?! Not only is it pulling officers away from actual emergencies, but with the current climate focused on police brutality towards people of color, it very well could result in a shooting. I have horrific anxiety when a police cruiser is behind me on the freeway, I’m not doing anything wrong, just driving to work on my morning commute, but my body physically reacts. I am so afraid that if they pull me over, they will kill me and I will be yet another black face for a cause, another hashtag. Just writing this makes my eyes burn with tears.
What I do appreciate about Starbucks is not only did the companies LEADERS personally extend an apology they also immediately took action and began putting together a company wide store closure for their racial bias training, workshops and OPENED the conversation on race in a safe environment.
This was no easy task, can you imagine the conversations with the shareholders, who only care about the cost? (Btw it did cost them millions to do this, tens of millions to be exact). Then after they got past that, putting it together, sure they could have gotten old videos from the 80s that shows gross and blatant displays of harassment and racism, (which are soo offensive to even be used as a training module), but they didn’t… the racial bias training video that they showed was created by documentary film maker Stanley Nelson. It was current, created for this situation, the training modules that they used were developed by 30 experts, including neuroscientists, diversity and inclusion experts and community outreach leaders. Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Heather McGhee, president of the public policy organization Demos, and others served as unpaid advisers to work on this.(CNN Money)
I NEED you to understand the level of commitment it took to do this. This entire training was produced and executed quickly but not done as an after-thought or half-assed. This is so important because it cuts a clear line between those who act vs those who hope for change.
So I am proud. I am proud because they took a step forward united, they created something that they will continue to use for monthly trainings (the stores will not close for these and they will focus on individual topics) and to train new employees. They will also share it with other companies so they can use it to train their employees. Other companies should bare witness and take notes because Starbucks as a company is the very definition of leadership, and although I do not drink coffee, you can bet your ass I will happily continue to get my Grande Comfort tea and Citrus Jade tea mixed with 3 packets of honey every day!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, let me know in a comment or an email, and I shouldn’t have to say it, but please don’t comment hate or negativity! The Honest Girlfriend does not have time for that behavior.