It's too bad that I can't stand coffee and that my budget would never allow me to buy the incredibly overpriced products at Starbucks because I would really love to have a "conversation" about race with one of the servers. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is encouraging his employees to engage customers on race relations by writing "Race Together" on their cups. I would love to hear their suggestions for improving the plight of poor, Black Americans in ways that don't involve expanding government programs and dependence. And I'd like to know how they think not sending drug dealers or those who possess weapons illegally to prison just to decrease racial disparities in the criminal justice system will make minority neighborhoods safer and better places to live. Plus, I can't think of a better expert to help me "understand" the state of race relations in the US than a 20-year old from Omro who works in a glorified break room.
And what happens if the server whom the customer chooses to "engage" in this conversation doesn't hold the same racial views as Mr Schultz? I seem to recall instances where Starbucks customers found not-so-flattering descriptions on their coffee cups or on their receipts. Are prospective employees going to have to take tests to determine their "tolerance levels"? Will there be training sessions on "sensitivity" right after being shown how to wash out the milk steamer?
Just imagine if this "let me tell you what you should think" policy expanded to other forms of retail. Every customer at Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A would be asked "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?" I'm guessing the professional protesters would be back out in front of those locations hoping to "save" customers from such "insensitive" questioning. And I'm sure Hooters customers would really like to discuss the role of women in society and business while trying hard not to stare down the front of their waitress' tank top.
Rather than talking around the problem, might I suggest Howard Schultz actually take action to improve race relations in this country. Why doesn't he provide low-income people of color with "transportation subsidies" as part of their compensation packages so that they can pay their own way to work in his coffee shops in well-to-do suburbs--instead of whining about a lack of taxpayer-funded transit systems in those areas? Why doesn't he provide 50-cents from every grossly overpriced cup of coffee to the nearest low-income school districts instead of bemoaning a lack of taxpayer funding for those institutions? And why doesn't he have his employees write "Don't do drugs" "Don't join gangs" "Don't have children out of wedlock" and "Don't buy this unless you are also saving for your child's college education" on their cups instead of griping that taxpayers don't provide enough money to the myriad of government programs that have to deal with the aftermath of those actions?
Consider it putting your money where your $6 small cup of coffee is.