No Heroes, Only Villains In Starbucks Racism Claims
Published : April 23, 2018
But in case you live under a rock, on April 12, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested after the store manager called police for trespassing. When the men arrived to the store, Nelson asked to use the restroom but was denied because restrooms are allowed for use by paying customers (which is redundant because a customer is someone who makes a purchase). Nelson was not a customer and therefore was denied access to the bathroom. He and Robinson then sat at a table and refused to leave after they were again asked to purchase something. The men said they were waiting to have a meeting.
This is clearly a short summary of what happened at that specific Starbucks location. Using rational thought, one would do more research to discern the consequences of the exchange and determine those who have done right and those who have done wrong.
Instead, like moths to the flame, we chose our tribes and cozied in for the long and bitter fight of facts be damned. The mainstream media’s narrative selected systematic racism camp, eliciting #BoycottStarbucks to immediately trend. The images became disgruntled millennials screaming at baristas who wished they had not shown up to work.
This entire debacle played out as a perfect example of how we are failing as a society. We react now and think later because we must run up the flag on our camp and obstinately declare our righteousness. But with every camp trying to out-right the others, in the end there are only losers, from the characters directly involved to all of the collateral damage.
It began with Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, who apologized in a letter and then a video message to the two men, saying the arrest was a “reprehensible outcome.” He is now spending his foreseeable future on a PR campaign to repair the Starbucks image and stock prices.
For the police, initially Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. defended his officers for their response to the call from the Starbucks location. The officers followed their policies and did their jobs, but days later, Ross came out and said he apologized to the men and will now have new policy guidelines for officers to follow.
Back at Starbucks, the store manager, who according to some reports is a proud social justice warrior—meaning it runs contrary to leftist narrative—is no longer with the company. This storyline has not been told. In fact, the footage from the cameras from Starbucks, of which there are several, has not been publicly viewed.
As for Nelson and Robinson, they were released without any charges filed, but now have their 15 minutes of fame to run their narrative about how they were waiting for a meeting that could potentially change their lives. Their lives have certainly been changed. In making the media rounds, Robinson said on Good Morning America, “Rules are rules, but what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong.” And then the men told the Associated Press that they feared for their lives when the police showed up, though that story is running counter to video evidence.
In the meantime, Starbucks stores received communication about the potential for protests and were given information should any of the workers need to seek counseling because of this incident. A memo bullet-pointing “protest preparedness guidelines” was also sent to stores for posting so that workers know what to do if and when protestors attack.
The only assured alleviation baristas have will be on May 29 when Starbucks will be closing its 8,000 company-owned stores for an afternoon to teach employees about racial bias. This affects about 175,000 workers and every teenager looking for the afternoon Frappuccino fix.
This story epitomizes our entrenchment in identity politics and lack of care for truth. In this situation, as in so many of our national stories, there are no heroes, only villains. No one is right, and everyone is wrong. Sip on that for a while.
(Full disclosure: I wrote this while at Starbucks. I also purchased something. The police were not called.)