Starbucks Sparks Race Debate


You walk into Starbucks eager to order your tasty drink. You receive your cup and rather than the usual misspelling of your name you see that the barista has written “#racetogether.”

Last Monday March 16, the chief executive of Starbucks, Howard D. Schultz launched an initiative, encouraging his baristas to write the phrase “race together” to start a conversation about race. However, due to much criticism this campaign dwindled quickly. On March 22, the chief executive wrote another letter to his employees telling them they would be no longer encouraged to write this phrase.

“It’s a good idea, but I think putting that responsibility on people who are just trying to make a pay check is unfair. I think future plans to put issues in USA Today is more appropriate than having their baristas talk about race,” health teacher Katie Gross said.

This is especially a problem as the employees tend to work at these types of franchises are often the younger people who have not formed true opinions about race and because of this definitely do not feel like discussing the topic.

Senior Jodie Pico works at Baskin Robins and says she feels “uncomfortable having a conversation about such a controversial subject with customers because of how little I see any one person during the day.”

Despite the criticisms Schultz plans to continue to take broader initiative. In an interview for the New York Times, Schultz discussed the future plans which included, “hiring 10,000 opportunity youth over the next three years,” special racial issue sections in USA Today, and “more open dialogue with police and community leaders in cities across our country.”

“I think it was a good idea and race is an important subject. However, I don’t think Starbucks is in any place to start that type of movement. When I go to Starbucks I’m just trying to get my coffee and leave not start a racial debate,” senior Raquel Gleicher said.

Through the controversy Starbucks will continue to promote the importance of racial issues. It is an important topic, but it is in their best interest to find another way to support it.