I don’t drink coffee — never have, never will — so neither do I patronize Starbucks or any other overpriced java joint filled with hipsters. Still, their absurd “Race Together” campaign would keep me from ever even ordering a cup of tea. And now it’s over. Phase One, at least:
The company announced in a memo that it would stop having its employees write those words on its coffee cups as a way to spark a national conversation about race. In a news release, the company described the rationale behind the campaign:
As racially-charged tragedies unfolded in communities across the country, the chairman and CEO of Starbucks didn’t remain a silent bystander. Howard Schultz voiced his concerns with partners (employees) in the company’s Seattle headquarters and started a discussion about race in America. Despite raw emotion around racial unrest from Ferguson, Missouri to New York City to Oakland, “we at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America,” Schultz said. “Not to point fingers or to place blame, and not because we have answers, but because staying silent is not who we are.”
The plan did get people talking about race, but perhaps not in the way that Starbucks intended.
Has it ever occurred to these soft-headed, guilt-ridden do-gooders that maybe, just maybe, we’ve been having a “conversation about race” for half a century and, after electing Barack Hussein Obama twice, America is not in the mood for another one? The fact that the campaign was widely mocked on Twitter and elsewhere was, in fact, a healthy sign that Americans simply don’t want to be lectured to on the subject anymore, especially by some barista armed with corporate talking points. Still, they’re not giving up:
The memo from Schultz called the Race Together initiative “just the catalyst” for what the company hopes will be a larger dialog on race, and said that Starbucks will continue to try and further that conversation with special sections in USA Today, and by opening more stores in minority communities, the Associated Press reported.
Here’s what the AP had to say:
Starbucks baristas will no longer write “Race Together” on customers’ cups starting Sunday, ending as planned a visible component of the company’s diversity and racial inequality campaign that had sparked widespread criticism in the week since it took effect. The coffee chain’s initiative will continue more broadly without the handwritten messages, Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson said.
The cups were always “just the catalyst” for a larger conversation and Starbucks will still hold forum discussions, co-produce special sections in USA TODAY and put more stores in minority communities as part of the Race Together initiative, according to a company memo from CEO Howard Schultz said.
The campaign has been criticized as opportunistic and inappropriate, coming in the wake of racially charged events such as national protests over police killings of black males. Others questioned whether Starbucks workers could spark productive conversations about race while serving drinks.
The phase-out is not a reaction to that pushback, Olson said. “Nothing is changing. It’s all part of the cadence of the timeline we originally planned.” He echoed the company memo, saying of the Race Together initiative, “We’re leaning into it hard.”
Yeah, right. Goodbye and good riddance, Starbucks: the backlash is going to be a bitch.