With companies getting involved in every aspect of the cultural debate today, there seems to be no end to what a corporation will do to further a liberal agenda. The latest example is when Starbucks launched a destined-to-fail effort to promote “dialogue” about race by requiring baristas to write the social media hash tag “Race Together” on customers’ coffee cups. Seriously.
On March 15, Starbucks ran a full-page ad in The New York Times titled “Shall we overcome?” meant as a play on Pete Seeger’s sixties civil rights song “We Shall Overcome.” The ad suggests that America is a divided nation in the wake of racially charged events such as Ferguson, Missouri, and at the very least, is extremely poor timing.
There certainly are hot spots of racial tension, but as a whole America is not racially divided. However, those who continue to foster such events and the exaggerated perception of them, are a small minority of agitators. Giving the public the idea that this problem is much larger than it is only serves the notion of Marxist class struggle.
Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz claims to be helping to reduce racial tensions by creating “dialogue.” He wants people to talk about what is “uncomfortable and controversial” and what better place for social reform to begin but at your local Starbucks. If Schultz is looking for topics that are indeed uncomfortable and controversial, perhaps he should ask his staff to discuss same-sex “marriage.” He would no doubt provoke many meaningful conversations over a cup of coffee.
Sadly, Schultz’s invasive social consciousness has been thrust upon the captive audience of customers who must wait and listen to baristas bringing up the topic of race while serving coffee. The overwhelming majority of customers are there to buy coffee and leave, not to be made aware of uncomfortable social issues. Furthermore, the promotion of race dialogue is a strange bed-fellow coming from a company known for premium priced products and association with upscale white neighborhoods.
This is not the first time Starbucks has pressed its employees into the fray; health care, bi-partisan harmony and gun rights have also been brewed into our Cafè Americano. This liberal offensive is the mixture of several social nightmares that include, but are not limited to, striking up conversations with strangers and overstepping socially acceptable boundaries. Not everyone enjoys having the local grocery bagger start a dialogue on the theory of a just war or one’s personal religious tenets.
Schultz further affirms, “the promise of the American Dream should be available to every person in this country, not just a select few.”1 While there have been many criticisms of this effort, most obvious are a few points that Starbucks seems to have forgotten to address before launching this campaign. Starbucks’ own glaring lack of racial diversity can be seen in its ivory corporate tower where only the coffee is black. All 19 executives currently on staff are white.2
Additionally, if Schultz is not trying to cash in on a recent trend feigning to increase awareness of racial issues, if not foster them, why are there not Starbucks in cities that are overwhelmingly black such as Benton Harbor and Highland Park, Michigan; East St. Louis, Illinois; Gary, Indiana; Selma, Alabama or Ferguson, Missouri?
What the program seems more intent upon doing is increasing tension by simply keeping alive the false notion that all white people are responsible for black oppression. Such a notion is about as racist as it gets.
As Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson (who is black) puts it, “when black liberals say they want to have a ‘conversation’ about race, what they really mean is they want to continue blaming whitey for past racism and perceived ‘white privilege.’”3 Resolving racial tensions will not be accomplished by playing the blame game, which fits the liberal narrative, but rather by an objective introspection to see what each one can do to help his neighbor by practicing authentic Christian charity.
Racial tensions are not something resolved by a fleeting chat with your local barista. Instead of creating dialogue, most people are either intimidated by having someone they do not know try to start a conversation about race or they are simply offended. It is embarrassingly evident why Starbucks’ “Race Together” program was cancelled and never crossed the finish line.