Starbucks Closes Many of Their U.S. Stores for Racial Bias Training


via Melissa DePino, Twitter

Much of this situation’s recognition stemmed from one woman’s viral tweet.

Alyssa Pepito, Photojournalist

What would Starbucks need to close and great number of their stores across the United States for? On April 12th, the manager of a Starbucks located in Philadelphia called the police on two black men who were waiting to meet someone, but got arrested for refusing to leave. Since this incident has happened, Starbucks has decided to close 8,000 of their stores in the United States to conduct racial bias training with their employees.

The video of two African-American men getting arrested and escorted out of the downtown Philadelphia Starbucks went viral on Twitter. In this 45-second video, it is seen that the men are being handcuffed by police . Even witnesses ask them what is it that they did wrong, in defense of the two men. One man who witnessed this, named Andrew Yaffe, said himself, “What did they get called for? Because there are two black guys sitting here meeting me?” The two, unidentified men were waiting in the Starbucks for their friend, Yaffe, and when one of the men asked to use the restroom, the employee did not allow them to and then asked them to leave since they had not bought anything. Starbucks later decided not to press charges on these men for “suspicion of trespassing” and they were later released. The case was reviewed and charges were declined due to to lack of evidence to which a crime was even committed (NY Times).

This controversy initiated many protests against Starbucks, with people responding with “#BoycottStarbucks” and even protested outside the downtown Philadelphia location. Most protesters and others called this incident “straight up racism” and some even thought this to be “anti-black.” Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnson, personally met with the two men who were arrested and apologized for the way they were treated. Johnson then felt like he had to do something about the problem and take responsibility for one employee’s actions. With that, they prompted to start racial bias training for Starbucks employees. According to New York Times, Starbucks plans to “close the stores May 29 to offer the training to 175,000 employees.” Ashley Ko (11) expresses how she does not see much being done in the future with the training for employees and instead suggests that “they should just try their best to not hire racist workers at their Starbucks locations.” In some people’s minds, the racial bias training seems to be ineffective.

Additionally, nothing has been said whether or not employees would face discipline. While Starbucks is one of the most popular chain companies in the world, it is important to see how the widely known company is going to deal with their racist employees and how they can help prevent discrimination within the community.