Starbucks and Racial Discrimination in the US

A few weeks ago in Philadelphia, a controversy involving the arrest of two Black men in Starbucks occurred. After a video surfaced on Twitter of the two men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, being arrested, criticism of the coffee company along with outcries about racial discrimination occurred across the country.

These two men were taken out of the store in handcuffs after the store manager had asked them to leave because they had not not bought anything, even though they said that they were waiting to meet their friend. When they did not leave after the manager told them to, and after the friend that they were meeting showed up, the police were called. The two men were detained, but not charged. The claim made by the manager that the men were loitering is ridiculous. Starbucks is a place that people use the bathroom and sit in stores without buying things every day.

On Thursday, April 19th the police commissioner Richard Ross released an initial statement that made the entire situation escalate; he said that the police involved in the arrest, “followed policy, they did what they were supposed to do, they were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen — and instead they got the opposite back.” Following this, there were protests outside of the police headquarters and the Starbucks location. After the controversy occurred, Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz spoke on the issue in an interview with CNN, stating, there’s no doubt in my mind that the reason [the police] were called is because they were African-American. And I’m embarrassed by that. I’m ashamed of that.

Following this statement, Starbucks announced that it will close all of its stores on May 29th this year in order to undergo racial bias education to prevent further discrimination. Many people across the country along with members of Starbucks executive staff are outraged that this incident lead to an arrest and are tired of circumstances of racial discrimination happening on a daily basis. When thinking about this event, it is important to remember that things like this most frequently happen to minority groups and white privilege is significant in instances like this. This is a reality for so many in America and we must take steps to end this.