Starbucks Surrenders to the Mob
After two black men were arrested for trespassing, the social justice warriors are out for blood.
“The tendency of liberals is to create bodies of men and women — of all classes — detached from tradition, alienated from religion, and susceptible to mass suggestion — mob rule. And a mob will be no less a mob if it is well fed, well clothed, well housed, and well disciplined.” —T.S. Eliot
In the world of corporate virtue-signaling, Starbucks takes a back seat to no one. To enter a Starbucks is to enter a world where high prices for coffee are exceeded only by the smug high-mindedness that pollutes the atmosphere. Yet as this kingdom of political correctness is discovering, even a single mistake is unforgivable by the mob. And the company’s chagrin is no doubt amplified by the irony that Starbucks was instrumental in enabling that very same mob attempting to consume them.
On April 12, two black men entered a Philadelphia Starbucks where they were reportedly waiting for a friend to meet them. They asked to use the restroom but were denied, because they hadn’t bought anything. While Starbucks’ official policy varies from store to store, this location has that rule in place. When the men were asked to leave and failed to do so, the manager of the store called police and reported that the men were trespassing. When the police arrived, they also asked the men to leave — three times according to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who is also black. When they still refused to do so, they were arrested.
Racism? Not according to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, who is also black. “Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did,” he said in a statement that further noted that Starbucks’ practices and training led to a “bad outcome.”
Regardless, the manager and Starbucks have parted ways. Thus the only individual to whom accusations of racism could be reasonably attached is no longer with the organization.
Unfortunately for Starbucks, a video of the arrest was posted on social media by a user who also said, “All the other white ppl are wondering why it never happens to us when we do the same thing,” has gone viral with more than 10 million views. And Starbucks is learning that when racial arsonists and their progressive enablers sense the emergence of a “teachable moment,” reason is the first casualty.
Thus, while the protesters were angered by what the Philadelphia Inquirer characterized as two men “guilty of nothing but waiting for a friend while black,” it further noted the protesters “were also intent on seizing the moment to spark a larger discussion about how black people are treated, surveilled, and policed across Philadelphia.”
That so-called discussion has engendered several days of “protests, castigating statements from Philadelphia elected officials, a sit-in by community and faith leaders to deliver a list of demands, a #boycottStarbucks hashtag that’s trending on social media, and a damage-control tour by Starbucks chief executive Kevin Johnson, who flew into town to apologize personally to the two men,” the paper added.
Will Johnson’s apology will suffice? During a Monday interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” he called the arrests “reprehensible,” and insisted the blame for the incident is “misplaced” and that this is a management issue he “owns.” “As we’re working to solve this,” he added, “I’d like to invite them to join me in finding a constructive way to solve this issue.”
Such “constructiveness” seems unlikely. While the two men met with Johnson, who apologized for the incident, they have also retained attorney Stewart Cohen, who insists it is a clear case of racial profiling.
Cohen has been joined by a proverbial amen chorus. Protesters have swarmed the Philadelphia location chanting slogans such as “a whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Starbucks coffee is anti-black.” Rev. Mark Tyler, pastor at Mother Bethel AME Church, declared the incident demonstrates that “it doesn’t matter what you attain in this country, black people and black lives are treated with the same amount of disrespect.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney issued a statement saying the incident “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.” He also said he would ask the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to determine whether Starbucks should make bias training for its employees part of the company’s policies.
He needn’t bother. On May 29, Starbucks will close 8,000 of its company-owned stores in the U.S. and subject nearly 175,000 employees to a racial-bias educational curriculum developed with guidance from “national and local experts confronting racial bias” as Fox News puts it. And as Johnson asserted, “Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”
Former CEO and current executive chairman Howard Schultz concurred, calling the training “just the beginning of what we will do to transform the way we do business and educate our people on unconscious bias.”
One is left to wonder whether minorities, who comprise 43% of Starbucks’ U.S. workforce, will be considered as “unconsciously biased” as their white counterparts — and thus subjected to the exact same training.
Moreover, this isn’t the first time Starbucks has pursued an equally imperious effort. In 2015, Schultz initiated a “Race Together” campaign that “encouraged” baristas to write that slogan on coffee cups, and engage customers in race discussions, if they were so inclined. Race Together is not a solution, Schultz told company partners at the time, “but it is an opportunity to begin to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society — one conversation at a time.”
Such vacuous pandering was too much even for the race-conscious crowd. Critics hammered the effort as tone deaf, “Saturday Night Live” lampooned it, and senior vice president of communications, Corey DuBrowa, temporarily suspended his Twitter account.
Starbucks got the message. After beginning the initiative on Mar. 15, Schultz shut it down on Mar. 22, insisting it was only the first phase of a greater initiative that included the “commitment to hire 10,000 opportunity youth over the next three years.”
“An issue as tough as racial and ethnic inequality requires risk-taking and tough-minded action,” Schultz wrote at the time. “And let me reassure you that our conviction and commitment to the notion of equality and opportunity for all has never been stronger,” he added.
Nonetheless, three years later Starbucks is a pariah, epitomizing the adage “no good deed goes unpunished.” Yet that’s exactly what Starbucks deserves for embracing progressives’ obsession with identity politics — the existence of which wholly depends on keeping Americans divided for political gain.
Thus a corporation haughty enough to believe teaching moments should be part of a simple business transaction is getting a teaching moment of its own: Only the ideologically pure survive — and only ever-increasing amounts of ideological purity will satisfy the mob.
Meanwhile, another video purporting to show disparate treatment of black and white bathroom users at a Starbucks location in southern California has emerged, courtesy of Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King. “Here we go again,” King tweeted.
Buckle up, Starbucks. Coffee isn’t the only thing that will be brewing in and around your stores in the near future.
And on a much lighter note, somehow this still seems relevant…