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This Is Why You Can't Get Starbucks This Afternoon

All 8K US stores closed as workers take part in training on racial bias
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2018 9:15 AM CDT
All 8K US Starbucks Stores Are Closing Tuesday Afternoon
A store closing sign is posted outside of a Starbucks store on Friday.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

(Newser) – If you're looking to get your Starbucks fix Tuesday, make a morning run or find somewhere else to get caffeinated. All Starbucks locations—more than 8,000 nationwide—are closing in the afternoon for training to educate its 175,000-plus workers on racial bias, per Money. The program is in response to two black men who were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks last month while waiting for a business meeting. Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson have settled with the city for $1 each, along with a vow from Philadelphia officials to invest $200,000 in a program for young entrepreneurs. Starbucks says this training is just the beginning. "We know that one day of training will not stop bias or solve racism," a rep tells Money. "These are hard, complex questions and this is a step in a long-term effort." Check out what time your local Starbucks will be closing here. More:

  • USA Today and the AP report that a "tool kit" will be offered to employees that will "focus on understanding prejudice and the history of public accommodations in the United States." The program also includes a short documentary film, as well as comments from Starbucks execs and rapper Common. The media won't be privy to the training sessions, which a Clark Atlanta University race and gender expert says is probably best to create a "safe [space] for open dialogue."

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  • There are five things Starbucks "has to get right" in Tuesday's training, per CNBC, including teaching about white privilege and avoiding making "false equivalencies." "While it might be tempting to frame this issue as 'bias can happen to anyone anytime,' I'd recommend against letting anyone come away from the program thinking that what happened in Philadelphia could have happened to two white customers," one consultant says.
  • Count Vox, which talked to five social scientists about racial bias, among those in the "this isn't nearly enough" camp. In some cases, one expert says, such training can even backfire by bringing long-buried biases to the surface, and not in a constructive way. "Diversity trainings are filled with good intentions and poor evidence," one University of Virginia researcher says.
  • Still, the training is a "good start," Andrew Ross Sorkin writes for the New York Times. Sorkin doesn't think any other US company is investing as much money or tackling so publicly the issue of race. He says the Starbucks program "will start a dialogue among some 175,000 employees," with "the hope … that they will continue the conversation in stores, at home, and among their family and friends for days, weeks, and months, multiplying the impact."

  • NBC News notes there are other places to get your latte on Tuesday, and on any other day—specifically, at black-owned coffee shops where owners try to make everyone feel welcome. "Do you want to spend your dollars at a place where you can feel safe or a place where they're going to call the police on you?" the proprietor of a Philly coffeehouse notes.
  • So what else is Starbucks doing beyond Tuesday? CNNMoney notes even non-customers can now hang out and use Starbucks' restrooms without buying anything, with limits (e.g., no sleeping or smoking in the restrooms), and more training sessions are said to be in the works.
(Read more Starbucks stories.)

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