Back in April, two young black men were wrongfully arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia. The incident quickly went viral with the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks and the coffee chain swiftly promised company-wide action. They issued an apology along with a promise that they would be closing their stores nationwide on May 29th to hold racial bias training for employees. In a statement, the coffee chain said the racial bias training would “address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination, and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.” Now, they’ve released the 8-minute video that all employees watched during the training. While the Starbucks racial bias training video definitely doesn’t solve the problems caused by racism and discrimination in our country, it’s still an important conversation starter.
Made by award-winning documentarian Stanley Nelson, the Starbucks racial bias training video is incredibly relevant. It starts with a history of discrimination against black people, especially as it pertains to public spaces. Then, it includes interviews from several people of color sharing their experiences with racism and discrimination out in the world. The video mentions more than just the Starbucks incident; it also mentions many of the situations we’ve all seen in the news where black people have been mistreated simply for existing.
“It’s time we talk about what it means to not be welcomed as an American citizen,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of NAACP Legal Defense Fund and senior consultant to Starbucks’s racial bias training, says in the Starbucks racial bias training video. “We just need to recognize that black people are navigating the public space differently than white people. That women are navigating the public space differently than men. And not use the shortcut that has been wired into your brain because of the society that we live in that tells you — when you see me — you should be nervous or you should be worried.”
You can watch the Starbucks racial bias training video here:
We’re glad that Starbucks is taking active steps to address racial bias.
However, we know that one training day is not enough. Just like #BoycottStarbucks, it’s important to recognize that fighting racism and discrimination requires intentionality, dedication, and to stop allowing these situations to develop in the first place.
Roseanne Barr rightfully faced the consequences of her racist comments, but Donald Trump routinely engages in racist, sexist, and discriminatory behavior and remains in office. The current state of America, especially regarding the treatment of black people for simply existing, is unacceptable. We’re glad to see Starbucks taking an active step in trying to fix this problem. We can only hope the rest of America does as well.