In April, after two innocent black men were wrongfully arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks, the coffee chain apologized and announced that, in order to prevent similar incidents from happening again, 8,000 stores would be closing early on May 29th for anti-racial bias training. Well, that day has arrived, and many are currently wondering: What will today’s training entail?
According to Reuters, the 8,000 company-owned locations involved in the training session will close at around 2 p.m. local time. About 175,000 employees will participate in this afternoon’s session, and the participating stores will reopen tomorrow, May 30th. Licensed Starbucks cafes, such as those in grocery stores and airports, will remain open, but will have a separate anti-bias training session at a later date.
During today’s session, NPR reports that employees will receive a “Team Guidebook” to accompany several videos — including one narrated by Common and one created by Stanley Nelson, the director of the documentary Freedom Riders. After watching the videos, participants will discuss questions like, “What makes individuals unique?” The people who helped create these materials include the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative.
Starbucks founder and executive chairman Howard Schultz said on CBS This Morning that the May 29th training will not be the only one of its kind.
Of course, the Starbucks anti-bias training today won’t end racial bias and discrimination in the U.S. But starting a conversation about this issue is crucial, and hopefully, this first session will be the beginning of a larger reckoning.