At April, two men visited a Starbucks in downtown Philadelphia for a business meeting. At first they were denied the request to use the bathroom before they ordered it, and then an employee called the police to the men who were black. The police arrested her on suspicion of trespassing and executed her in handcuffs. They were finally fired, and apologized the company . But #BoycottStarbucks began to develop on Twitter . It was a public relations disaster. On Tuesday, the Starbucks branches nationwide closed early at 2 PM and 174,700 employees participated in four hours of "worker anti-bias training" intended to help people for unconscious discrimination.
After that, I spoke with two of these employees on opposite shores.The first, a barista in his sixties who had asked not to be named, described himself as "a white Jew living in a very blue city in one "I'm fascinated by the idea that all eight thousand shops get the same four-hour training," he said, before moving to the store where he worked for five years He was Jewish patron. "
The second employee I talked to was Jaime Prater, a forty-two-year-old Starbucks scholar in Los Angeles, who identifies himself as a racial and gay bar and has been with the company for more than a decade. "I work with a very diverse group of people and we serve a wide range of people," said Prater. "We're on Highway 210. People are going to Vegas, Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, it's an urban shop."
Both staff confirmed their love for Starbucks and the desire to defend them. "I shook my head in shame," Prater said, describing the moment when he learned of the incident in Philadelphia. He continued, "You can not drive while you're black, you can not be in your backyard, while black, I can not go black to Starbucks, so I shook my head, but I shook my head too, thinking "Starbucks would be unfair as a place where people can not come because of their looks, and that's never been the culture of Starbucks." He added that he was a "very vocal critic" of the company's work practices. "Hours are not guaranteed, no matter how long you work, unless you're an employee," he explained, creating insecurity for the people who work there. (Starbucks has argued that its "established principles" are to give employees "a good estimate of the hours they will receive" and to post appointments at least two weeks in advance, the decade in which Prater worked for Starbucks He was unaware of such good faith estimates.)
The anti-bias training was organized around videos, said the men who watched and then discussed the employees on iPads. They watched clips of historic civil rights marches, heard righteous interviews about the experience of being a person of color, listened to inclusive-minded statements by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz and the company C.E.O., Kevin Johnson. There were transitional segments told by Rapper Common. "A number of people said, 'What about the Common?'," Said the Barista from Massachusetts. "I know who he is, but I could not tell you what he did."
All participants received a notebook with questions to answer. When did they first notice their own racial identities? When did they feel that their accents influenced how other people perceived their intelligence? "These are all things that I, as a white man of sixty-two, did not think much about," said the barista. "I grew up on Long Island, most of my friends were Jewish." The notebook asked the staff about a time in their lives when a friend of another race regularly visited their homes. "Unfortunately I have no friends of different races, because of the community in which I live and how I live," said the barista. "So I thought some of the questions were a bit weird in my view."
The Barista could not imagine an instance during his tenure at Starbucks when he acted with bias, he said. Finally, he thought of a regular customer he assumed was Muslim, "because she wears a headscarf that may not be fair, it's Ramadan, but she orders food," he said. "If I had more time I would like to have a conversation with her because I do not know much about Islam except fasting during Ramadan, maybe she is not a Muslim."
The barista said he could Do not fathom "racial profiles", like what happened in our shop. Not really. I mean, I can experience it with ornery clients. But it would have been "So and so woke up today on the wrong side of the bed." I can not imagine anyone coming in and acting like we're calling the police. He added, "Do I know that I have prejudice? Absolute. But I am very aware and aware of ethical issues.
He recalled a sentence that was repeated many times during training: "Be bold with color. He said, "I still do not know what that means. to be honest. "
Prater, on the other hand, said he understood the phrase," It's about seeing and validating different cultures and identities, not being blind, "he told me, continuing:" Race is always in my head, since I am a bastard. I had crazy experiences in my life. Many people do not even understand it. This was the first time we talked about race. It seemed to open eyes for a lot of people, but also very uncomfortable. It was difficult for people in a work environment to share very divisive personal experiences. "About a third of the employees in his business are white, he said," so many of the experiences that I and another African-American manager discussed about going into Walgreen to wash and be persecuted – they looked at us on, like, my god & # 39 ;. They do not think about being aware of how they act in public space. Prater also acknowledged his own prejudices as if "I could walk down the street with a problem with Jane Doe's Caucasian Lady, provided she is eligible."
Prater thought that Starbucks merit for it "rolling out the red carpet and spending millions on Training technology, paperwork would spend books and all these things. "But for other reasons, he still felt ambivalent." The lowest-paid workers are taxed if they give them the best face, if they are given no loyalty, no guaranteed hours, "he said, adding," Though It is a great first step for a taxed worker to say to people that they are doing five things at the same time, at the bottom of the totem pole, to be additionally racially sensitive. It seems almost unfair to me. "
That's what Prater and the barista in Massachusetts agreed with," If you have a line of customers at your door, "the latter said," how do you deal with every incident that happens in the store at any given time? It's all a free-flowing theatrical event that you're trying to manage.
The Barista recalled another venture to teach tolerance after the police shot dead an unarmed black teenager in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. " Baristas were encouraged to talk to people about race, "he said," We got this letter saying, "Let's do a # WhatDoYouThink hashtag." But to one person, we said, "This is a startlingly embarrassing affair. Why should I have this conversation with someone I do not know who is coming to coffee, why should I ask them by racial standards? "It vanished as quickly as it seemed." He continued, "But this training, I think, is a much more differentiated way of looking at a very important topic. Maybe we'll move the dial a little bit. That would be great. "