If you’re a BLM barista at one of over 14,000 U.S. cafes, I’ve got great news.
No longer will you be politically oppressed while making that venti iced skinny hazelnut macchiato with sugar-free syrup, an extra shot, light ice, and no whip.
Starbucks is planting a metaphorical pole so you can let your flag fly.
As reported by The Daily Wire, employees of America’s coffee king will now be allowed to “wear Black Lives Matter apparel during their shifts, a strong departure from the company’s prior stance, as articulated in an internal memo last week that subjected the company to backlash after it was leaked to Buzzfeed News.”
On Friday, the company issued a statement. Here’s a piece:
Black Lives Matter and Starbucks is committed to doing our part in ending systemic racism. As a company, Starbucks leaders continue to listen to partners (employees) about how they want to take a stand for justice, while proudly wearing the green apron and standing united together.
We’re living in an interesting time. Feelings and words appear to be trumpeted as solutions to problems.
Symbolism seems to be hailed as practical change.
I find that odd. The notion of “systemic racism” indicates mechanical, functional aberration within America’s systems. If that malady exists, only policy, procedural, and legislative mandates can correct the course. We should be naming the specific malfunctions and applying permanent fixes.
Words and emblems, by contrast, don’t “end” anything.
Or do they?
Either way, a Friday letter from a trio of Starbucks executives laid it out: Workers may sport Black Lives Matter pins and shirts — until official Starbucks ones are printed.
From the letter:
“We are so proud of your passionate support of our common humanity. We trust you to do what’s right while never forgetting Starbucks is a welcoming third place where all are treated with dignity and respect.”
Furthermore, Starbucks respects “all of our partners’ opinions and beliefs,” and it “[encourages] them to bring their whole selves to work while adhering to our dress code policy.”
It’s not new territory for the ‘Bucks.
Starbucks created its “Third Place” policy in May 2018, which aims to create a space within its stores that is inclusive and welcoming to all customers.
The company has also pledged $1 million to organizations promoting racial equity, partnered with Arizona State University to design anti-bias resources and training, and says it is actively hosting open and necessary conversations with employees about “racism the Black community faces.”
Starbucks partners also have the option to buy a T-shirt from its approved “Black Partner Network,” which aims to spark conversation “around the African diaspora.”
The path forward requires open and honest conversations about racial injustices. On Saturday, Starbucks partners came together in an open forum to listen and support one another.
It’s going to take each of us to drive necessary change. https://t.co/ZUlBV9MgFF
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 2, 2020
Per the outlet, Seattle’s iconic coffeehouse previously said No to political gear:
According to an internal bulletin obtained by BuzzFeed News, store managers had been contacting senior leadership on behalf of employees who wanted to wear BLM-related attire as protests continued to sweep major cities and small towns across the country.
In response, management, according to the memo from last week, argued that wearing clothing and accessories highlighting Black Lives Matter could be misunderstood and potentially incite violence. The bulletin pointed employees to a video, which has now been removed, in which its VP of inclusion and diversity explained that “agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles” of the movement and could use them to “amplify divisiveness.”
Calvin Bensen, a 22-year-old barista from Atlanta, told BuzzFeed News the company’s response was “disappointing in ways I can’t express in words. That statement prioritizes those who feel discomfort over Black lives.” He called it “violent.”
“My skin color incites violence at Starbucks. Should I not come to work?” he asked. “It is silencing and Starbucks is complicit. Now more than ever, Starbucks needs to stand with us.”
And now they are:
Black Lives Matter. We continue to listen to our partners and communities and their desire to stand for justice together. The Starbucks Black Partner Network co-designed t-shirts with this graphic that will soon be sent to 250,000+ store partners. pic.twitter.com/Wexb45RcTE
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 12, 2020
These days, those words — “Black Lives Matter” — are a bit up for interpretation. They may simply refer to the notion that black people are valuable, something with which no reasonable person would ever disagree.
They might also reference the organization Black Lives Matter, whose published multilayered beliefs are, in part, stated thusly:
We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead.
We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.
We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.
We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.
Whatever the phrase might mean to you, you’ll now be able to support the cause while you conjour a cappuccino.
Personally, I hate dress codes. How about allow people to wear whatever they want, in general?
I won’t hold my breath on them making room for MAGA hats. But if you’d like to go perhaps a less politically charged route to supporting black people, as noted by The Daily Wire, you’ve got the option:
The memo also suggested that any employees who wanted to “show support for black partners” could wear the “Keep It Brewing” t-shirt, which had already been developed by the Black Partners Network. The “Keep It Brewing” t-shirt depicts a steaming cup of coffee with the continent of Africa and a heart on the front.
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