Two black men arrested at Philadelphia Starbucks; Implicit bias training mandated for stores nationwide
Views 16 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 4 - 25 - 2018 | By: Noah Argao
Two weeks ago, the manager of a Starbucks restaurant in Philadelphia made the conscious decision to call the police after two black men refused to leave. Neither of them had bought drinks and were there for a business meeting. According to The New York Times, about two minutes after they entered the store, the manager called 911 and the two were arrested on the accusation of trespassing. Videos of the incident went viral and had a national audience frustrated, confused, and more than ready to stand up against an ongoing issue of racial bias and discrimination.
Starbucks has a history of making sure that the public knows their progressive liberal policies and approach. In 2015, they changed Christmas decorative cups to just a plain red cup with the claim that they wanted to be inclusive of all holidays and traditions, not just the American Christian one. Then, in 2016, Starbucks announced that they would be adopting the policy of gender neutral bathrooms in support of the LGBTQ movement. Many are then left confused as to why Starbucks is still having issues with racial bias.
Public perception of the company has already dropped dramatically and social media has even started a movement to boycott Starbucks. There have already been countless protests inside stores with hopes of communicating that racism still exists and is in desperate need of a solution.
While Starbucks stock prices have remained relatively stable, this incident will leave a financial scar. Due to a huge sense of urgency among the top executives of Starbucks to solve this problem, they soon announced a shutdown of many stores nationwide on May 29 for anti-bias training. This afternoon-long training will greatly affect on the company’s profits with an expected loss of around $12 million.
This solution has been debated by many head researchers of implicit bias. Jason Okonofua, a social psychologist at the UC Berkeley, told the New York Times, “It [training] allows people to just think in a more mindful way when interacting with people.” However, others believe that training, if not received or handled correctly, can backfire and cause more unrest within employees. Seth Gershenson, an economist at the American University, believes that any training that asks people to put aside their biases is bound to be ineffective. If this is not the route that that will lead to improvements, then the community has other ideas.
Leaders from the local community want to a part of this reconciliation. After a meeting with Chairman Howard Schultz and Chief Executive Kevin Johnson, leaders have hopes that the coffee company will also play a leading role in moving towards racial justice. “We want to develop a partnership with Starbucks that will extend beyond this crisis moment,” said Rev. Mark Kelly to the Wall Street Journal. The group of leaders has suggested putting more stores in black communities and using some revenue to build up a community along with the training that employees will be undergoing.