Starbucks Shuts Down For Racial Bias Training

Callie Hardesty

Starbucks is a staple item in nearly every U of M student’s budget. With five Starbucks locations scattered throughout the University of Minnesota campus, you can find a Starbucks no matter where you’re heading. Although the line may be long, this line will drastically shorten on May 29th. Likewise, college students may find themselves searching elsewhere for their caffeine craving come next fall.

On May 29th, every Starbucks location throughout the United States is ordered to close its doors for the entire day. Instead of serving their customers, every Starbucks employee will take part in a specialized training in an effort to combat racial bias that accompanies many restaurants in the United States.

On April 13th, multiple arrests were made on two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks. These men said that they were waiting for another business associate to arrive; however, a Starbucks store manager ordered the arrest, and the men were escorted out of the building. The store manager who ordered the arrest has since left the company.

The arrest of these men sparked a social media outrage, calling for attention and change to be made regarding a racial bias among Starbucks employees. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson apologized profusely for this incident, asking to meet with the two men who were arrested to resolve the issue that. Johnson states that this issue is not solely based in Starbucks, but in various other companies throughout the United States. He is driven to make a change in the way Starbucks handles racial bias, and therefore is ordering every employee to take part in a racial bias training on May 29th, leaving every Starbucks location closed for that day.

Johnson hopes that taking action will help to prevent future problems regarding race in his Starbucks stores. He believes that the company’s foundational values are based on humanity and inclusion, therefore making efforts to reaffirm their values and make every Starbucks location a safe and welcoming environment for all people, regardless of race. 

On May 29th, employees will be involved in training surrounding implicit bias, promoting conscious inclusion, and preventing discrimination within Starbucks. This training will include experts, such as Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP; Heather McGhee, president of Demos; Eric Holder, former U.S Attorney General; and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.

In efforts to move past this unfortunate situation, Starbucks aims to regain their reputation as an inclusive, welcoming cafĂ©.