Updated Jun. 12 2020, at 1:20 p.m. ET: Well, it didn’t take long for Starbucks to realize what a colossal mistake they had made by not allowing employees to wear Black Lives Matter attire while working. Just one day after an internal memo banning pins and t-shirts supporting Black Lives Matter was made public by Buzzfeed News, the coffee retailer posted the following Instagram post stating that employees “can show support with their own t-shirts, pins and name tags.”
The Starbucks Black Partner Network has also designed a t-shirt that will be given out to over 250,000 employees.
Original story published Jun. 11, 2020 at 6:04 pm. ET: When protesters took to the streets after the tragic death of George Floyd to demand racial equality and equity, just about every brand stepped up to support the Black community in some way — except for Starbucks apparently. Despite publicly declaring support for the Black Lives Matter Movement in a tweet, Buzzfeed News obtained an internal bulletin that states Starbucks is not allowing its employees to wear clothing or accessories mentioning or referencing Black Lives Matter.
Black lives matter. We are committed to being a part of change.
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 4, 2020
The reason for not allowing employees to express their support? According to Buzzfeed, management “argued that wearing clothing and accessories highlighting Black Lives Matter could be misunderstood and potentially incite violence.” The bulletin restated the company’s dress code policy and reminded employees that “Partners may only wear buttons or pins issued to the Partner by Starbucks for special recognition or or for advertising a Starbucks-sponsored event or promotion; and one reasonably sized and placed button or pin that identifies a particular labor organization or a partner’s support for that organization, except if it interferes with safety or threatens to harm customer relations or otherwise unreasonably interferes with Starbucks public image.”
The hashtag #BoycottStarbucks started trending shortly after the news broke.
I call bullshit. Starbucks recently sent a memo to all of its employees stating that all BLM accessories and apparel were banned because it violated a company policy. Nice try though #BoycottStarbucks https://t.co/dGDOjRE1Qa
— Sallie Mae Catch these Hands (@onmyscholarshxt) June 11, 2020
I will be boycotting @Starbucks until they reverse this racist policy.
— Bhavik Lathia (@bhaviklathia) June 11, 2020
Several users also pointed out that while they ban BLM attire, they provide LGBTQ pins for employees to wear during June, Pride month.
#BoycottStarbucks @Starbucks allows and hands out LGBT pins for workers to wear. Is Starbucks saying that Black People are less important than @LGBT? I haven't forgotten that "karen" that called the police to attack young Black customers.
— You Ain't Getting My Vote (@rubyrubin8) June 11, 2020
— Trish (@StilettoRoyalty) June 11, 2020
There’s no excuse for behavior like this, especially from a brand with so much influence. The violence we need to be concerned about is the blatant, unprovoked, unnecessary and lethal violence that threatens the life of every Black American because of the rampant racism in this country — not the hypothetical violence that a pin or t-shirt may cause. Starbucks, you need to do better and we’ll be waiting and watching for your response.