Who gives the Starbucks barista the name “Race Together”? Let’s not complicate things, joker, just keep it movin’. This coffee run has already taken far too long.
That was my first reaction to Starbucks’ attempt to cure America’s racism forever.
In case you haven’t heard about Starbucks’ new #RaceTogether campaign yet, here’s how it works — and I’ll try to keep the eye-rolling to a bare minimum.
Baristas across the nation will write “Race Together” on coffee cups instead of the standard misspelled customer names. Then the barista will engage you in a conversation about race.
Oh please, no.
Now, before we start taking swipes at the effort, let’s take a quick sec to applaud Starbucks and its CEO, Howard Schultz, for taking a stand and doing what they can to bring the communities they serve closer together. It’s so ambitious it’s kind of funny. But then again, so is selling people daily $6 cups of coffee. So there’s that.
The campaign, according to Schultz, is a reaction to the recent deaths of black men at the hands of law enforcement in Ferguson, New York City and 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.”
It’s earnest and a lovely sentiment, but no one is going to Starbucks to talk about race relations. Aren’t the lines already long enough? Now we have to wait for McKenna to break down Selma?
Predictably, social media cynics are having a field day with #RaceTogether
— Kayla Tausche (@kaylatausche) March 18, 2015
Howard Schultz is getting his fair share of flack too
— Mike (@mike4libertyCA) March 18, 2015
And how exactly will baristas determine who needs a good racism talk?
— Peetey (@PeeteySDee) March 17, 2015
Also, there are no Starbucks in Ferguson
— Health Care Data Wonk ☕️ (@Ohmaar1) March 18, 2015
And just in case we needed further evidence that this is a fairly glib reaction to a hugely complicated problem in America, here is video from MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, where a guest has to remind the other guest that he’s black while they discuss #RaceTogether. It’s a little awkward, and I don’t think adding a barista to the mix would have helped matters.
More on race relations in America
Samuel L. Jackson challenges celebs to sing about ‘racist police’ (VIDEO)
The Mamafesto: Why race and class matter when it comes to parenting
#MLKDay: 20 Stirring celebrity perspectives on racial equality today