Starbucks Closing 8,000 Stores to Combat Racial Bias

On April 12, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested at Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square Starbucks for absolutely no reason. The two men were set to have a meeting regarding their real-estate work and were waiting for a third person to arrive. As soon as he walked in, Mr. Nelson asked to use the restroom and was turned down as it is for ‘paying customers only’ (something that has since been shown as racial bias). He and Mr. Robinson sat down and waited for their meeting partner to show and only two minutes later, cops flooded the coffee shop and arrested the men. In an interview on ‘Good Morning America,’ the two men stated that the cops never read them their Miranda rights, never asked them if they knew why they were being arrested and never even told them the reason for their arrests. Onlookers have vouched for the men and backed up their story, further emphasizing the wrong-doing of the manager, Holly Hylton, and the police. Hylton has since been fired and has received an influx of criticism for the way she treated the innocent men. 

In the wake of the intense backlash Starbucks is receiving, the franchise is closing down 8,000 of its locations for ‘racial bias training.’ They will be closing select stores on May 29 as a result of boycotts and protesting at several store fronts. The goal is to train around 175,000 employees to treat all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and any other definitive characteristic, as equals and with respect. In an interview with CBS News Howard Schultz, Starbuck’s executive chairman, said, ‘I’m embarrassed, ashamed. I think what occurred was reprehensible at every single level. I think I take it very personally as everyone in our company does and we're committed to making it right.’ He acknowledged the systemic racism that is prevalent in this country and has vowed to do all in his power to help alleviate that problem within the Starbucks realm. The company’s CEO also met with Mr. Nelson and Mr. Robinson in person on Monday, although he declined speaking about the details of their meeting. However, in an interview with CNN,  

He said that he is still trying to understand how this could happen in a Starbucks in today’s society. He claims the company’s mission is, ‘around the human experience and creating a warm, welcoming environment for everyone.’ The senior executives of Starbucks are blaming the manager’s ‘unconscious bias,’ and are vowing to do all in their power to ensure that this never happens again.

 

Courtesy: NPR

 

During their interview with ‘Good Morning America,’ Mr. Robinson says he wants to ‘make sure this situation doesn’t happen again. I want for a young man, or young men, to not be traumatized by this, and instead motivated and inspired.’ Mr. Nelson stated that he wants people to, ‘take this opportunity as a stepping stone to really stand-up and show your greatness; and that you are not judged by the color of your skin as our ancestors were…This is something that has been going on for years and everyone’s blind to it, but they know what’s going on…and help people understand that this is not a ‘black people thing’ it’s a people thing.’