starbucks race together initiative a corporate goof or fail

I’m reminded of the time during my fourth or fifth year on this planet where my Brother and I thought we made a new friend, a white kid about my age, who soon after called both of us…

… We had no reaction since we didn’t know what that word meant…

… Which makes me recall a nearly forgotten chapter in post-World War II urban history when returning white veterans were greeted with federally-guaranteed mortgages—plus opportunities to live in newly-built suburbs, resplendent with government-built highways and new businesses—while vets of African descent were denied the same opportunities for their own families. The result of this government-sanctioned white flight project was predictable: the creation of ghettos pratically overnight as large amounts of capital left the inner cities to build wealth—with Uncle Sam’s help, I’ll remind you. No policymaker seemed to think of an equivalent urban plan…

And that makes me think about the story behind the industrial games played which helped to spark the labor riots in the early 20th century. I also think about the zoot suit riots in southern California and the Detroit race riots—both of which occurred in 1943. And a more current story about a Midwestern US town reenacting the Black Codes. And this

These thoughts help confirm for me why Starbucks’ Race together initiative, partially powered by barista diplomacy, is misguided. Assuming B.F. Skinner is correct, it’s already too late—years of hard-coded social programming had already occurred before many adults and teenagers taste their first lattes. Not to mention the layers of complex institutional policies which served as tracer marks, as if to help other citizens know where to drop their N-bombs.

Okay, I admit that I don’t like Starbucks’ coffee—that’s a longer story about my palate which is best left for another time.

But the more important point is that the parents of the kid I mentioned earlier are most likely purveyors and teachers of racial hatred. Y’know, the sins of the elders and their elders…

Another point worth mentioning is that policymakers like the revered Robert Moses created poor ethnic communities through brute force disguised as deft urban planning.

And I’m sure those brilliant familial teachers or community planners can’t be reached by coffee cups…

If Starbucks wishes to move forward with becoming a social activist company—a move which will almost certainly create a business risk for them in the short term—they should think about showing kids a counter-narrative to the hatred being taught at home.

Another suggestion for the company is to invest in better politicians…

song currently stuck in my head: “jungle strut” – santana

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