LIVE Stream, Invite Police & Inspire May 29th as National Racial-Bias Training Day
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On the afternoon of Tuesday, May 29th, nearly 175,000 Starbucks employees from 8,000 stores and those working in the corporate office will go through training “designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent (racial and other) discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.” What if this was a nation-wide LIVE stream for America to participate in? What if America's CEOs followed the lead of Starbucks and May 29th was a National Racial-Bias Education Day?
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, after meeting with the Starbucks leadership team and listening to local community, has ensured a commitment to being a part of the solution. While we honor the leadership role CEO Kevin Johnson took to address the incident, we ask for more. We applaud this effort as a small part of the way to address the urgent problems witnessed on the 04.12.18 video of officers arresting two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks for simply “waiting while black.”
Black people are familiar with forms of surveillance and biased policing that’s historically unfair and under-addressed. It’s a common experience of black living; the extra scrutiny and prejudicial treatment of black lives. Sure, the Starbucks employee/s need training but also officers of the law were not able to decipher if this was an incident that warranted escalating to the point of arrest. If those same patrons were white, would there have been arrests? So who REALLY needs this important training more? What’s more damaging, not feeling safe in a Starbucks or not feeling safe when EVER engaging with America’s police?
What if Starbucks is successful in achieving measurable outcomes from this unconscious and conscious bias training? Then what? This isn’t just a problem with Starbucks but a symptom of the larger, endemic problem of racial bias of retail profiling in many stores across America, inequality in the criminal justice system, unfair and impactful messages of bias in our school systems, media and marketing, and unfortunately, too often the case when engaging with the nation’s police officers. Not only would police officers benefit from this training BUT ALL AMERICANS will too. Why not call for a National Day of Racial-Bias Training?
“My responsibility is to look not only to that individual but look more broadly at the circumstances that set that up just to ensure that never happens again,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said. We ask and argue, how can this never happen again without understanding that the broader overview of circumstances are beyond Starbucks stores? We can’t separate the set of circumstances that “set that up” involved police. We also can't ignore that these incidents happen daily for black & brown lives - not just in Starbucks but all over America. Founder and executive chairman Howard Schulz noted, “The company’s founding values are based on humanity and inclusion.” True humanity and inclusion can’t happen without the involvement and help of local law enforcement. Inclusion would be providing an opportunity for ALL Americans to participate. Again, what good is it (for black men in particular) being safe in Starbucks, if we are not safe on America’s streets?
Starbucks – you can help address this. The training is already scheduled. LIVE Stream this training. If Beyonce and Coachella can air a successful live stream in the middle of the night for many of us, this can be done. Take the lead on challenging other CEOs on making May 29th a National Racial-Bias Training Day. #NationalRacialBiasTrainingDay Also, please commit to ensuring (some key) police officers are not only invited to your training and are in attendance but also engaged with the training’s outcomes. There are police forces across America that need this type of exercise. There are Americans across America that could benefit from this training. And this could be the next solid step in Starbucks being a part of the larger, desperately needed solution.
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