Starbucks’ much hyped employee “anti-bias” training in the aftermath of the arrest of two black men for loitering at a Philadelphia store without buying anything was heavy on police brutality and left some employees disappointed that the coffee store giant didn’t do more to address the issue at hand.
Philadelphia Magazine’s Fabiola Cineas reported on what a couple of Starbucks baristas told her about the training.
Instead of addressing racial tension head on, the training mostly “beat around the bush,” said one of the baristas, a 24-year-old Latino man we’ll call Jamie. “I was really disappointed when I walked out of there because I was expecting so much more,” said the other barista, an 18-year-old black woman we will call Tina.
Then there was their reaction to the videos on police brutality:
“The videos of cops knocking people down and fighting people were really disturbing,” Tina explained. “I told them I didn’t like the video and they told me they understood and that I was open to give my opinion.” What does watching videos about police brutality have to do with the situation that happened, Tina said she kept asking herself. “They went too deep into it and missed the point all at the same time.”
“At one point,” said Jamie, “a girl at my table actually had to get up and leave because video after video they showed black people being assaulted by police or black people being verbally assaulted and white people being racially biased toward people of color. It offended her. She left after that.”
The baristas had other complaints as well, with Tina telling Cineas that she thought they got too deep into black history after being shown a video of the 1960s lunch counter sit-ins, which she didn’t see as relevant.
Jamie mentioned that lack of diversity of the presenters–one white male and three white females, didn’t make any sense when the training was really about racial issues.
Cineas reached out to Starbucks for comment on what Tina and Jamie recounted to her about the training and was told that “May 29 isn’t a solution, it’s a step,” and said the company will “continually assess our progress and remain open to engaging with other groups as merited.”