Does Starbucks Really Want an Honest Conversation?

 

starbucks-race-together-3Starbucks is hoping to lead a national conversation about race. According to a video released by founder Howard Schultz, Starbucks barristas are encouraged to scrawl “race together” on coffee cups before placing them in the hands of customers. This hollow bit of moral exhibitionism is supposed to encourage “compassion,” “honesty,” “empathy,” and “love.” Does Starbucks sell caffeine-free compassion?

Each and every time we’re hectored to engage in an “honest conversation” about race, it’s a sham. What’s wanted is not honesty, but confession of sin by white people and expressions of pain from blacks and others. Decade after decade, despite vastly diminishing levels of white racism (and the rapid growth of non-white populations), we are told that the old stain of racism continues to poison the lives of minorities. By encouraging that fiction, Starbucks is subtracting from racial understanding.

For what it’s worth, here’s my little contribution to the “honest conversation.”

I spent preschool through third grade in mostly black Newark, New Jersey. My friends and my enemies were black. There were only three white students in my third-grade class. I remember deciding with one of my black friends that we were all “colored” – some black, some white. We grinned at our brilliance in solving a vexed national question. Little did we anticipate that Starbucks would one day adopt this as a keen insight.

Our next-door neighbors were black, and their two little sons were about the cutest things you can imagine.

By the time I was 9, I had been beaten up on the way to school, nearly had my bicycle stolen out from under me by a much older girl (some punches were thrown), and been chased through the park by a gang of boys. All of these assailants were black. So was my much-adored second grade teacher.

I have always thought that my intimate experience of growing up in a mixed neighborhood in my early youth (we moved to a suburb when I was in fourth grade) inoculated me from thinking in stereotypes. Unlike many white people, I told myself, I had lived among blacks and accordingly saw them as individuals — not heroes or villains, and not symbols.

But that’s not complete. Want the truth? Despite my knowledge that blacks are just people – good and bad, interesting and dull, trustworthy and deceptive – I have nevertheless spent my whole life being nicer to blacks than to whites. If a black person makes a joke, I laugh harder than I would for a white person’s joke. I hold open doors a fraction longer for blacks than whites. I’m more likely to use the honorific “sir” with a black store clerk than with a white.

I know a woman who adopted two children, one black and one white. Guess what? White strangers fuss and coo over the black child noticeably more than over the white one.

The same impulse that caused me to spend decades being particularly solicitous towards black people (and I very much doubt I’m the only one) has caused this country to move heaven and earth to try to repair the damage done by slavery, Jim Crow, and racism. Our entire system of quotas and set asides, our trillions of dollars in social programs, our “diversity” industry, our carefully designed entertainment, and yes, the election of Barack Hussein Obama all testify to how badly America yearns to prove its racial bona fides.

But for the race racketeers, the enormous racial recompense machine that is American life is as nothing. When an old-fashioned racist is discovered (of course they still exist), the press gaggle shouts choruses of “I told you so’s.” The exceptions are seized upon as the thinly veiled norm. They ache to believe that black problems, like higher rates of crime, poverty, and joblessness, can be laid entirely at white people’s feet. If coffee buyers can only transcend their unloving thoughts, the poor will thrive and peace will descend.

If Howard Schultz truly wanted to alleviate the problems of black Americans – and everyone else as well – he would do better to highlight the key role played by family structure. Only 2 percent of black children raised by their married parents are poor. Most young men who commit crimes are from fatherless homes. In fact, family structure is a far better predictor of poverty, criminality, and a host of other troubles, than race. More than 70 percent of black children are from single parent homes.

Fifty years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan tried to have an honest conversation about the black family. He was shouted down.

We haven’t had an honest conversation about race since.

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  1. user_989419 Inactive
    user_989419
    @ProbableCause

    We all know that beer and diapers tend to be purchased together.  Perhaps Starbucks’ marketing department did some data mining and discovered that coffee and racial arguments are a natural combination.

    • #1
  2. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Although I’ve never been to Starbucks, I don’t go to any restaurant to improve race relations.  All I want is my dang food . . .

    • #2
  3. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Question

    • #3
  4. user_836033 Member
    user_836033
    @WBob

    And America is the only country that has ever chosen a member of an ethnic minority as a leader…. ever.  And not only that, but someone who has a Muslim name, just a few years after a Pearl Harbor style attack by Muslims. It’s as if America elected a Japanese American named Yamamoto president in 1952. Whatever it may mean about the health of our survival instincts, the election of BHO should have forever put to rest all doubt about whether America is a racist country.  But in fact it has only seemed to make the problem worse.

    • #4
  5. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    An excellent post. I would love to see Mona debate a gentry liberal on these issues.

    I recall hearing Howard Stern, the shock jock, discuss growing up in similar circumstances. When he started high school in Roosevelt, NY it was about 50/50 racially mixed, by the time he was a senior he was one of three or four white kids left in the school. He said he was frequently beat up, picked up by the throat, etc. for being white in full view of teachers or staff but they were instructed not to intervene or file any kind of report because of the sensitivity of the issue – kind of like the little girls in Rothenham.

    I’m sure this kind of conversation would not be welcome by your local barista.

    • #5
  6. Elephas Americanus Member
    Elephas Americanus
    @ElephasAmericanus

    I will not be patronizing Starbucks as long as Starbucks is patronizing to me.

    • #6
  7. user_989419 Inactive
    user_989419
    @ProbableCause

    Bob W:But in fact it has only seemed to make the problem worse.

    Democrats have to keep it worse.  Look at the chart in the middle of this article., asking respondents about a Hillary vs. Jeb Bush matchup.  (Don’t get distracted; forget that it’s Jeb for a moment.)  85% of non-white respondents choose Hillary.  14% choose the Republican.

    Their strategy is clear.  Democrats have to foment racial division in order to maintain that kind of support.

    Plus a healthy dose of war on women.

    • #7
  8. user_1065645 Podcaster
    user_1065645
    @DaveSussman

    • #8
  9. user_8847 Inactive
    user_8847
    @FordPenney

    Mona;

    Unfortunately the mere use of the hashtag- #RaceTogether sets a stage of ‘separation’ not inclusion.

    Its not #WeTogether or #WorkingTogether or even #OneVoice its wrapped in the divisive enjoiner ‘Race’.

    Its not a conversation and its definitely not an ‘honest’ conversation, its a set-up.

    • #9
  10. J Flei Inactive
    J Flei
    @Solon

    The amount of racism of blacks against whites that I have heard in my lifetime dwarfs the amount of racism I have heard the other way.

    I remember as a kid hearing a ‘song’ by the rap group Public Enemy that began, “Pump up the bass, pump up the treble treble, talk on the level, the white man is the devil.”  Calling white people ‘the devil’ sure sounds racist to me.

    • #10
  11. J Flei Inactive
    J Flei
    @Solon

    If you have time and are so inclined check out this Jimmy Kimmel video where they ask people if they have a black friend.  It’s funny!  What I want to point out is that at the end, as a twist, they ask a black person if he has a white friend.  The young man replies, “No, white people are scary.”  OK, can we talk about that in Starbucks please?

    • #11
  12. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Bob W:And America is the only country that has ever chosen a member of an ethnic minority as a leader…. ever. And not only that, but someone who has a Muslim name, just a few years after a Pearl Harbor style attack by Muslims. It’s as if America elected a Japanese American named Yamamoto president in 1952. Whatever it may mean about the health of our survival instincts, the election of BHO should have forever put to rest all doubt about whether America is a racist country. But in fact it has only seemed to make the problem worse.

    I think it made it feel worse. That’s why all this has been blowing up on Obama’s watch—because life for black people, especially inner-city, poor black people should be better…and people don’t have a good explanation for why they’re not.

    • #12
  13. Mona Charen Contributor
    Mona Charen
    @MonaCharen

    J Flei:If you have time and are so inclined check out this Jimmy Kimmel video where they ask people if they have a black friend. It’s funny! What I want to point out is that at the end, as a twist, they ask a black person if he has a white friend. The young man replies, “No, white people are scary.” OK, can we talk about that in Starbucks please?

    Very much doubt it.

    • #13
  14. Mona Charen Contributor
    Mona Charen
    @MonaCharen

    Probable Cause:

    Bob W:But in fact it has only seemed to make the problem worse.

    Democrats have to keep it worse. Look at the chart in the middle of this article., asking respondents about a Hillary vs. Jeb Bush matchup. (Don’t get distracted; forget that it’s Jeb for a moment.) 85% of non-white respondents choose Hillary. 14% choose the Republican.

    Their strategy is clear. Democrats have to foment racial division in order to maintain that kind of support.

    Plus a healthy dose of war on women.

    That’s their strategy, true. What’s remarkable is how long this particular dance has been going on. Remember the supposed epidemic of black church burnings in the 1990s? The Texaco racism in the boardroom scandal? The Tawana Brawley case? It’s amazing that it continues to work.

    • #14
  15. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    EJHill:Question

    Great! But if it was a black mermaid they would complain that it was a racist caricature.

    • #15
  16. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    Bob W:And America is the only country that has ever chosen a member of an ethnic minority as a leader…. ever. And not only that, but someone who has a Muslim name, just a few years after a Pearl Harbor style attack by Muslims. It’s as if America elected a Japanese American named Yamamoto president in 1952. Whatever it may mean about the health of our survival instincts, the election of BHO should have forever put to rest all doubt about whether America is a racist country. But in fact it has only seemed to make the problem worse.

    Exactly what John Derbyshire predicted in 2008.

    • #16
  17. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @EustaceCScrubb

    What I want is my barista’s opinion on the impact to the average consumer from the monetary policy of quantitative easing.

    • #17
  18. Boots on the Table Member
    Boots on the Table
    @BootsontheTable

    Stad:Although I’ve never been to Starbucks, I don’t go to any restaurant to improve race relations. All I want is my dang food . . .

    If you like coffee that costs $5 and tastes burnt, then Starbuck’s is the place to be.  Otherwise, save your money and don’t waste your time.

    • #18
  19. Boots on the Table Member
    Boots on the Table
    @BootsontheTable

    Kate Braestrup:

    Bob W:And America is the only country that has ever chosen a member of an ethnic minority as a leader…. ever. And not only that, but someone who has a Muslim name, just a few years after a Pearl Harbor style attack by Muslims. It’s as if America elected a Japanese American named Yamamoto president in 1952. Whatever it may mean about the health of our survival instincts, the election of BHO should have forever put to rest all doubt about whether America is a racist country. But in fact it has only seemed to make the problem worse.

    I think it made it feel worse. That’s why all this has been blowing up on Obama’s watch—because life for black people, especially inner-city, poor black people should be better…and people don’t have a good explanation for why they’re not.

    There is an excellent explanation. It’s called the break down of the family. It’s called single mothers.  It’s called dad’s not taking care of their children. It’s called not taking responsibility for yourself. That’s the explanation.  It’s not that they don’t have a good explanation, it’s that they don’t want to admit that the explanation is themselves.

    • #19
  20. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Bob W:And America is the only country that has ever chosen a member of an ethnic minority as a leader…. ever. And not only that, but someone who has a Muslim name, just a few years after a Pearl Harbor style attack by Muslims. It’s as if America elected a Japanese American named Yamamoto president in 1952. Whatever it may mean about the health of our survival instincts, the election of BHO should have forever put to rest all doubt about whether America is a racist country. But in fact it has only seemed to make the problem worse.

    I agree with your conclusions, but other countries have chosen ethnic minorities as leaders.  Disraeli was the British PM in the late 1800s.  Peru had a President of Japanese descent (Fujimori) in the 1990s.  I suspect there are many other examples.

    • #20
  21. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    Arizona Patriot:

    Bob W:And America is the only country that has ever chosen a member of an ethnic minority as a leader…. ever. And not only that, but someone who has a Muslim name, just a few years after a Pearl Harbor style attack by Muslims. It’s as if America elected a Japanese American named Yamamoto president in 1952. Whatever it may mean about the health of our survival instincts, the election of BHO should have forever put to rest all doubt about whether America is a racist country. But in fact it has only seemed to make the problem worse.

    I agree with your conclusions, but other countries have chosen ethnic minorities as leaders. Disraeli was the British PM in the late 1800s. Peru had a President of Japanese descent (Fujimori) in the 1990s. I suspect there are many other examples.

    Thank you, I knew there was a South American country that had a Japanese president but couldn’t remember which one.

    • #21
  22. user_989419 Inactive
    user_989419
    @ProbableCause

    Mona Charen:

    Probable Cause:

    Bob W:But in fact it has only seemed to make the problem worse.

    Democrats have to keep it worse. Look at the chart in the middle of this article., asking respondents about a Hillary vs. Jeb Bush matchup. (Don’t get distracted; forget that it’s Jeb for a moment.) 85% of non-white respondents choose Hillary. 14% choose the Republican.

    Their strategy is clear. Democrats have to foment racial division in order to maintain that kind of support.

    Plus a healthy dose of war on women.

    That’s their strategy, true. What’s remarkable is how long this particular dance has been going on. Remember the supposed epidemic of black church burnings in the 1990s? The Texaco racism in the boardroom scandal? The Tawana Brawley case? It’s amazing that it continues to work.

    There’s no rebuttal.  I don’t know this for a fact, but I suspect the RNC’s budget to run ads on BET is $0.

    • #22
  23. CuriousKevmo Member
    CuriousKevmo
    @CuriousKevmo

    I stopped patronizing Starbucks long ago when any attempt to order a simple black coffee became a chore.

    “Would you like it off of our Clover machine?”

    “No, thank you”  (omitted the thank you after about the 5th time)

    “Would you like a croissant with that?”

    “No”

    “How about a shot of espresso in that!”

    “No, how about a freakin’ coffee you &%&%**#&!!”

    They routinely give me a reason to never come back.  This would be the latest such reason.

    • #23
  24. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    We have just witnessed a caricature make a caricature of itself. Starbucks managed to create Starbucks the Parody. I fully expect a dimensional collapse to follow as white guilt begins to ooze out of each exquisitely precious patrons pores.

    I strongly advise keeping a fifty foot distance (hard to do in some neighborhoods), and if you feel the danger is imminent, start singing a Hank Williams song in an un- ironic manner.

    • #24
  25. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    yes… well … that and the fact that any sort of racial stereotyping (or anything at all race-related, really) from white people is pretty much exclusively referred to as racism, where from black people it is called racial pride, or identity, or whatever else.  Not sure exactly how that works.

    I listened to GLoP this week and thought it was kind of interesting how the 3 simply took for granted that “some cops in Ferguson are racist.”  Well, I don’t know that I’d be willing to make that sort of statement.  I’d say there is racial tension in the south, I suppose, but is that to say that Seattle’s ridiculous treatment of black people (spoiler alert, it’s about like Mona’s excessive cooing over the baby) isn’t racist?  We really are at a point where the word “racism” doesn’t exactly work anymore.  It can only ever refer to white people, and it applies to things that often even occur far less in white people (because they are especially sensitive, being called racist at the drop of a pin).  I also think it is interesting how we love to throw “the south” under the bus.  Heck, even conservatives do it.  Until I live in a predominately black city where billions are spent on welfare and I don’t feel safe walking down the street at night, I’m going to cut a little slack to that southern guy who holds onto a few racial stereotypes.

    Interesting anecdote, and a true story:  I was talking with a client of mine and (after I pointed out that the loss prevention officers recognized him from a previous shoplift and were following him for that reason) he said “the only reason I got stopped wasn’t because of that old theft, homey, it was because I’m a f___ing mexican.”  “Jose,” I said, “both officers are mexican!”  He said:  “I know, homey!  Those F__ing Mexicans are the most racist of all!!”

    • #25
  26. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    CuriousKevmo:I stopped patronizing Starbucks long ago when any attempt to order a simple black coffee became a chore.

    “Would you like it off of our Clover machine?”

    “No, thank you” (omitted the thank you after about the 5th time)

    “Would you like a croissant with that?”

    “No”

    “How about a shot of espresso in that!”

    “No, how about a freakin’ coffee you &%&%**#&!!”

    They routinely give me a reason to never come back. This would be the latest such reason.

    oh, I go to a little drive-through coffee stand.  The lady peeks out after the car in front of me and when I pull up she hands me a 16oz drip coffee, black.  She says “anything else, today?” and I say “nope, thank you!” and (after the buck fifty) I’m on my way.  She asks because I occasionally order a drink for my wife.  I’d rather buy coffee someone who knows my drink order in advance than someone who thinks she knows the state of my soul and offers to help me be less racist by writing on the cup…

    • #26
  27. profdlp Inactive
    profdlp
    @profdlp

    TKC1101:

    …I strongly advise keeping a fifty foot distance (hard to do in some neighborhoods), and if you feel the danger is imminent, start singing a Hank Williams song in an un- ironic manner.

    Came in last night about a half past ten…

    • #27
  28. The Great Adventure! Inactive
    The Great Adventure!
    @TheGreatAdventure

    I’m curious – if I stopped shopping at any store where they asked some form of “would you like anything else?”, can anyone suggest where I would acquire the things I need?

    Complaining about Starbucks’ race baiting is legitimate. Complaining about them trying to upsell is just whining. It’s a universal business practice in this country.

    • #28
  29. user_989419 Inactive
    user_989419
    @ProbableCause

    CuriousKevmo:I stopped patronizing Starbucks long ago when any attempt to order a simple black coffee became a chore.

    It’s almost as bad as getting gasoline.

    “credit or debit?”

    “zip code”

    “car wash (Y/N)?”

    • #29
  30. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    My personal thoughts on race are that white people should file more EO complaints.

    I get my coffee from local hipsters.

    • #30

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