With approximately 13,000 stores in the U.S. alone, Starbucks is a staple in many American’s lives. It’s their first stop on a busy workday, their mid-day caffeinated pick-me-up, their weekend meet-up spot. For some Americans, Starbucks is their only wi-fi provider, and for others, it’s their Cheers, the place where everybody—or at least the friendly baristas—knows their names.
Starbucks is my second home (I standardly walk in armed with a fleece blanket and fuzzy socks); the office I retreat to when my home office feels either claustrophobic or oddly unproductive; the place where I sojourn when I want a latté that tastes as smooth and familiar as my taste buds expect it to.
@@Starbucks is as American as America: accessible to the rich and the poor, quick and convenient with apps and drive-thrus; loved by many, hated by many more; lauded for its standardization; and racist.@@
Not particularly racist or especially racist, just good-ole American racist, like most American institutions. Smile-in-your-face-but-think-less-of-you racist. Take-your-money-but-deny-you-equal-treatment racist.
The company’s praiseworthy health insurance plans and higher ed perks don’t exempt it from being steeped in America’s founding sin. Its social consciousness and do-goodism don’t prevent it from serving up strong cups of discrimination every now and again.
But today, May 29, 2018, Starbucks has the opportunity to become better than the United States of America. Today, Starbucks has the chance to do what the country has never had the courage to do due to blind nationalism and reimagined history.
It has the opportunity to acknowledge its wrongs and correct them, to help its employees examine their racial-biases and prejudicial practices. It has the chance to shine the light of truth on itself and to admit that its good does does not mitigate its wrongs.
Today, Starbucks has the opportunity to repent, to turn away from the racial-bias prevalent on America’s shores long before its bloody inception.
Although I’m hardly a champion of American capitalism, this moment positions Starbucks not just as a socially responsible company, or even as a socially savvy company, but as a beacon of light and advocate of racial healing for a country in desperate need of both.
So while I may have to grab my mocha latté at my local Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf today, I will gladly do so knowing that Starbucks is trying to make its stores—and by extension the United States of America—better than how its flawed founding fathers envisioned it more than two hundred years ago.
I will gladly buy a cup of Joe—or Jamal, or José—and drink to that.
SEE ALSO: The Starbucks By My House
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