If you, like me, were disappointed over the weekend when the person mixing up your tiramisu latte didn’t offer to have an in-depth conversation with you about the state of race relations in America (“it’s 8:30am on a Saturday, it’s way too early to talk about racism”), you may not have a chance to live out your dream of discussing uncomfortable subjects with uninformed strangers much longer. At least, as far as Starbucks is mandating it.
According to Starbucks, the #RaceTogether promotion, which was widely ridiculed for being utterly ridiculous, ended on Sunday and baristas are no longer required to request that you “race together” to a better America. They’re “moving on” to other aspects of the multi-dimensional campaign. And while most people looking forward to getting a bit of social justice with their morning espresso were under the impression the promotion would last for weeks, Starbucks says the short stint was all that was in the plan, and that they’re “moving on.”
Starbucks baristas will no longer write “Race Together” on customers’ cups starting Sunday, ending a visible component of the company’s diversity and racial inequality campaign that had sparked widespread criticism in the week since it took effect.
The company had planned all along to end the cup messages on Sunday and continue the campaign more broadly, Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson said.
The cups were “just the catalyst” for a larger conversation, and Starbucks will still hold forum discussions, co-produce special sections in USA TODAY and put more stores in minority communities as part of the Race Together initiative, according to a company memo from CEO Howard Schultz said.
The campaign has been criticized as opportunistic and inappropriate, coming in the wake of racially charged events such as national protests over police killings of black males. Others questioned whether Starbucks workers could spark productive conversations about race while serving drinks.
The phase-out is not a reaction to that pushback, Olson said. “Nothing is changing. It’s all part of the cadence of the timeline we originally planned.”
So instead of forcing unsuspecting coffee patrons to discuss major national issues, they’ll simply convene panels of like-minded people to give lip service to their own inflated senses of compassion and self-importance. While noble, in this day and age of high grad student unemployment, the endeavor is far from original and, unfortunately, unlikely, as it’s predecessor strategy, to give way to heated arguments in corner coffee shops. So, instead of “racing together” toward racial harmon, Starbucks will mostly just be racing with other highly-educated white people toward a verbal consensus that things aren’t going so great.
They will continue to guilt their customers in other ways, including handing out a questionnaire that asks how many friends of other races you have. Which, I suppose, is an improvement over Starbucks asking its baristas to guilt you instead.