USA TODAY and Starbucks are teaming up to tackle race via #RaceTogether. A letter co-authored by Stabucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz declared, “Race Together is not a solution, but it is an opportunity to begin to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society—one conversation at a time.” Um, why not start by having a conversation about clients who express a commitment to inclusion yet conspire with White advertising agencies where diversity is a dream deferred and denied? Otherwise, #RaceTogether looks like a trenta serving or hypocrisy.
Starbucks, USA TODAY team to tackle racial issues
By Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY
Starbucks, in partnership with USA TODAY, is about to tackle the issue of race in America.
This week, baristas at 12,000 Starbucks locations nationally will try to spark customer conversation on the topic of race by writing two words on customer cups: Race Together. Also, a special “Race Together” newspaper supplement, co-authored by Starbucks and USA TODAY, will appear in USA TODAY print editions beginning Friday, March 20. It also will be distributed at Starbucks stores.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is on a mission to encourage Starbucks customers and employees to discuss race, under the firm belief that it’s a critical first step toward confronting — and solving — racial issues as a nation. It is scheduled to be a key topic at the java giant’s annual meeting on Wednesday.
“Racial diversity is the story of America, our triumphs as well as our faults,” says the opening letter to the eight-page supplement and conversation guide, signed by Schultz and Larry Kramer, president and publisher of USA TODAY. “Yet racial inequality is not a topic we readily discuss. It’s time to start.”
The supplement includes race relations “conversation starters,” including one fill-in-the-blank question that simply asks: In the past year, I have been to the home of someone of a different race ___ times.” It also encourages readers to tweet responses to questions at #RaceTogether such as: How have your racial views evolved from those of your parents?
In a video that Schultz shared this week with Starbucks baristas, he explains what they should say to customers who ask them about the “Race Together” wording written on their cups. “If a customer asks you what this is, try to engage in a discussion that we have problems in this country in regards to race. And we believe that we are better than this, and we believe our country is better than this.”
Schultz and other senior Starbucks executives have visited with nearly 2,000 employees in forums on the topic over the past three months in Oakland, St. Louis, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago and Seattle.
Schultz, in the video, says the outcome of each forum has been the same. “Emotional, heartbreaking ... and in many ways, inspiring.”
At the end of each forum, he says, employees have approached him and noted that the company has to do more than just host open forums. Schultz says he hopes that other companies — and other business leaders — join the cause.
The letter authored by Schultz and Kramer ends with this challenge: “Race Together is not a solution, but it is an opportunity to begin to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society — one conversation at a time.”