The Broader Problem with Starbucks’ Racialism

 
CAj_mkqUYAAyDem
Click image to embiggen.

In an effort to solve America’s race issues once and for all, Starbucks is offering a discussion guide named “Your Race Relations Reality Check.” The document is featured to the right. This is not a Photoshop. This is real. One of the biggest companies on Earth thought this was A Good Idea.

Starbucks asks how many of your friends are of a different race and how that compares to your parents’ and kids’ racial quotas. They want to know the racial makeup of your neighborhood, workplace and Facebook stream. Have you let people of other races into your home? Have you entered theirs? And why didn’t you keep up with that childhood friend of a different race?

For the past few days, I’ve tried to identify what most bugs me about this Starbucks stunt. I’ve grown accustomed to the hand-wringing of rich white liberals, the smug preachiness of corporations, and the intrusion of politics into everyday life. But this “Reality Check” revealed something deeper.

Let me veer onto a tangent; I’ll get back to the point in a minute. Starting with my first job out of college, I’ve had to mingle at trade shows, launch parties and corporate events where I was ordered to chat up complete strangers. I’m an introvert, so this was almost a fate worse than death. I’m some punk kid and they’re middle-aged bankers and software developers — what on earth am I supposed to talk about?

So I came up with a conversation hack to sidestep my inner wallflower. I needed them to tell me something — anything — we might have in common. It would go like this:

“Where is your office located?”

“Nebraska.”

“So, what’s going on with those Huskers? Could be an interesting year…”

Then I’d shut up and nod for 10 minutes.

In that first job, most of the guests were male and often from rural areas, so I would just mention the name of the nearest college and let them educate me on the sports there. I didn’t know jack about the Huskers but any year is “interesting,” broadly speaking. I liked football, though, so I could interject anodyne observations about the prevent defense or the pros and cons of an NCAA playoff system.

As they talked for 10 minutes, they would invariably drop another point or two we had in common. Maybe they were in the military, or rode a motorcycle, or liked Mexican food — anything to chat about for a few minutes. “Oh, you hate viral gastroenteritis? How weird — so do I!”

Now, whenever I meet someone new I instinctively figure out all the things we have in common. If I’m sitting next to a hyper-political progressive at a dinner party, I find that one issue on which we kinda-sorta agree. I learn that a business vendor once lived in a city I love to visit. The barista at my non-Starbucks coffee place also likes Brazilian music.

So when I have guests to my home, I think immediately of our similarities. They’re the couple from church, not the twice-married Hispanics from Jersey. She’s the cool graphic designer, not the sexually ambiguous Green Party delegate who lives in a yurt outside of Montpelier. He’s the dad at my daughter’s birthday party, not the Muslim who only watches Premier League soccer.

Since I favor commonalities, I can’t even answer the Starbucks questionnaire. I have no idea the races of my parents’ or kids’ friends and even if I did, why would it matter? I suppose I could categorize my friends by ethnicity, but the thought makes my skin crawl. They’re friends, not racial statistics.

This reveals one of my fundamental issues with the progressive mindset: they are obsessed with dividing Americans into discrete, controllable categories. They want to place the transgendered sherpas here and quinoa farmers of color there and keep the woodworkers’ union completely separate from Carpenters’ Local 323. Everyone must focus on what makes them different from their fellow citizens and vote with their assigned group.

This is why gay, minority and female conservatives catch so much flak. They crawled out of their boxes and must be shamed until they crawl back into them.

If Starbucks prefers that I shoehorn it into a category, I’ll go with Gentry Liberals Assuaging White Guilt With A Disastrous Marketing Strategy.

Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 95 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  1. HeartofFLA Inactive

    They’re friends, not racial statistics.

    I am so tired of how much work just being a decent human being is anymore.

    • #1
    • March 20, 2015, at 6:11 PM PDT
    • Like
  2. Dave Sussman Contributor

    As I read your post I kept thinking the name “Starbucks” was interchangeable and synonymous with “Democrats”.

    Whatever happened to “divided we fall”?

    • #2
    • March 20, 2015, at 6:14 PM PDT
    • Like
  3. Paul A. Rahe Contributor

    There may be another dimension to this. Until I came to Hillsdale, for something like forty years, I lived and operated in the liberal academy. Never did I come across a white liberal with black friends. I have stayed in the home of an African-American friend; an African-American friend has stayed in my home. I never encountered an academic liberal who could make either claim.

    • #3
    • March 20, 2015, at 6:17 PM PDT
    • Like
  4. Mark Wilson Member

    Great points. There’s even another problem with this approach. What they are going to find is that, by a wide margin, white people have the fewest friends of other races on average. And this will be used to diagnose a problem of insularity among white people, and claims that white people are unwilling to befriend people of other races. But no such conclusion can be drawn. It is simply a natural result of the statistical distribution of our population.

    Math Alert! Take an example to illustrate the point. Imagine a group of 100 people where 90 are Blue and 10 are Red. Now give each person 10 friends from the group. Even if the friends are selected completely at random, here’s what probability theory tells us would most likely happen purely naturally:

    • The typical person will have 9 blue friends and 1 Red friend.
    • About a third of the Blue people will have all Blue friends.
    • Only a quarter of the Blue people will have more than 1 Red friend.
    • None of the Red people will have all Red friends.

    This would be interpreted as racial bias on the part of Blue people even though the selection of friends was completely random!

    • #4
    • March 20, 2015, at 6:22 PM PDT
    • Like
  5. Jimmy Carter Member

    David Sussman:Whatever happened to “divided we fall”?

    What ever happened to E pluribus unum?

    • #5
    • March 20, 2015, at 6:23 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. Lash LaRoche Inactive

    Jimmy Carter:

    David Sussman:Whatever happened to “divided we fall”?

    What ever happened to E pluribus unum?

    Socialism happened.

    • #6
    • March 20, 2015, at 6:26 PM PDT
    • Like
  7. kelsurprise, drama queen Member

    Please oh please, tell me that you add up all the numbers you fill in on the front, then flip the thing over to find out “What your score says about YOU.”

    Just like those Seventeen Magazine quizzes my friends and I used to take in high school – – before we lost touch, that is. (I have to go examine my conscience, now and confront the real reasons that happened.)

    • #7
    • March 20, 2015, at 6:27 PM PDT
    • Like
  8. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Jimmy Carter:

    David Sussman:Whatever happened to “divided we fall”?

    What ever happened to E pluribus unum?

    Didn’t Algore tell us that this means “out of one, many”?

    • #8
    • March 20, 2015, at 6:35 PM PDT
    • Like
  9. John Walker Contributor

    This is a company which sells overpriced beverages containing caffeine, sugar (probably corn fructose), and milk products, all of which are pernicious. Why do you expect their political views, crudely pushed onto their customers, to make any sense?

    Yes, I’m paleo.

    They can’t even get the apostrophe in their corporate name right. Why would you expect them to get your name on the cup correct?

    • #9
    • March 20, 2015, at 6:40 PM PDT
    • Like
  10. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member

    John Walker:This is a company which sells overpriced beverages containing caffeine, sugar (probably corn fructose), and milk products, all of which are pernicious. Why do you expect their political views, crudely pushed onto their customers, to make any sense?

    Well, it’s a perfect medieval-style indulgence then!

    By the way, ever notice the racist subtext of the latte? White on top, brown crushed down beneath? And don’t get me started on the closet racists obsessed with adding extra foam, even though the coffee does all the real work.

    • #10
    • March 20, 2015, at 6:55 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. ParisParamus Member

    John Walker:This is a company which sells overpriced beverages containing caffeine, sugar (probably corn fructose), and milk products, all of which are pernicious. Why do you expect their political views, crudely pushed onto their customers, to make any sense?

    Yes, I’m paleo.

    Bad coffee now with bad ambiance.

    • #11
    • March 20, 2015, at 7:05 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. KC Mulville Inactive

    I just don’t see why I have to explain myself to a complete stranger.

    The arrogance of Starbucks is the classic arrogance of liberal nannyism. That is, that no matter what the issue is, a liberal feels entitled to call others to be accountable … to them. Even if I secretly held an opinion that was different from the prevailing zeitgeist, I deny that I owe an answer to the liberal, or that I need to justify my different opinion to that liberal, or that the liberal has a right to an explanation.

    Do I owe you an explanation? No.

    • #12
    • March 20, 2015, at 7:06 PM PDT
    • Like
  13. Brian Clendinen Member

    Liberal Progressives proving yet again, they are the political and religious nutbags who have the largest population of Bigots, race H$*%&, and other non-COC compliant names.

    • #13
    • March 20, 2015, at 7:10 PM PDT
    • Like
  14. Eeyore Member

    John Walker:This is a company which sells overpriced beverages containing…sugar (probably corn fructose)….

    John, John, John…

    I don’t Starbucks, but I would be very surprised if their sugar didn’t come from Fair Trade Co-ops growing only organic, sustainably-harvested cane, packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled material packets.

    (Now the stuff that goes into any un-labeled baked goods that the customer sees no ingredients, that might be a different issue…)

    • #14
    • March 20, 2015, at 7:16 PM PDT
    • Like
  15. John Walker Contributor

    Eeyore:

    John Walker:This is a company which sells overpriced beverages containing…sugar (probably corn fructose)….

    John, John, John…

    I don’t Starbucks, but I would be very surprised if their sugar didn’t come from Fair Trade Co-ops growing only organic, sustainably-harvested cane, packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled material packets.

    Heh. See this document. Note that they say they’ve removed all of the high-fructose corn syrup from their “foods” but are silent about their “drinks”. (I don’t think there’s any substantial difference in pure sugar extracted from cane, beets, or corn. All of them, in the doses in these beverages, will, consumed in excess, eventually lead to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. So the question is the quantity of simple processed carbohydrates in their products, not what they’re made from.)

    • #15
    • March 20, 2015, at 7:29 PM PDT
    • Like
  16. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    Mark Wilson:Great points. There’s even another problem with this approach. What they are going to find is that, by a wide margin, white people have the fewest friends of other races on average. And this will be used to diagnose a problem of insularity among white people, and claims that white people are unwilling to befriend people of other races. But no such conclusion can be drawn. It is simply a natural result of the statistical distribution of our population.

    Math Alert! Take an example to illustrate the point. Imagine a group of 100 people where 90 are Blue and 10 are Red. Now give each person 10 friends from the group. Even if the friends are selected completely at random, here’s what probability theory tells us would most likely happen purely naturally…

    Rainbow Friendz (TM), collect ’em all! Red, blue, purple, blellow, their autonomy and feelings don’t matter as long as you can check their kind off your list!

    A relative of mine who’s only recently discovered the wonders of Leftism actually does this. He has begun cataloging his friends and acquaintances based on their minority status, and doesn’t understand why we find his desire to collect and catalog his friends as if they were stamps at best irrelevant and at worst rather offensive – I mean, if we thought getting offended about this bizarre habit was all that important in the first place.

    On the other hand, if race (or other minority status) is truly not an issue for you, ending up with friends who are randomized according to this variable is normal.

    • #16
    • March 20, 2015, at 7:32 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. Profile Photo Member

    The self-righteousness wreaks. I am going to Pete’s.

    • #17
    • March 20, 2015, at 7:49 PM PDT
    • Like
  18. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    Good thing I don’t drink coffee….Or is this a bad time to give up caffeine?

    • #18
    • March 20, 2015, at 7:58 PM PDT
    • Like
  19. Eeyore Member

    John Walker:

    Eeyore:

    John Walker:This is a company which sells overpriced beverages containing…sugar (probably corn fructose)….

    John, John, John…

    I don’t Starbucks, but I would be very surprised if their sugar didn’t come from Fair Trade Co-ops growing only organic, sustainably-harvested cane, packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled material packets.

    Heh. See this document. Note that they say they’ve removed all of the high-fructose corn syrup from their “foods” but are silent about their “drinks”. (I don’t think there’s any substantial difference in pure sugar extracted from cane, beets, or corn. All of them, in the doses in these beverages, will, consumed in excess, eventually lead to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. So the question is the quantity of simple processed carbohydrates in their products, not what they’re made from.)

    It’s not about what’s in your food. It’s how you feeeeel about what’s in you food. I checked the link, and it’s at least as bad as I imagined. I found this nugget which well supports my original snark:

    “We are continuing to collaborate with others in our industry to address ethical sourcing best practices in our shared supply bases. Starbucks is a member of the Global Social Compliance Program, a business-driven effort to promote the continuous improvement of environmental and working conditions of global supply chains.”

    • #19
    • March 20, 2015, at 8:01 PM PDT
    • Like
  20. Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    Just thought I’d share my answers:

    1) My parents has “Martian” friends of a different race.

    2) I have “never eaten” friends of a different race.

    3) My children have “never assaulted” friends of a different race.

    4) “Darn noisy” members of a different race live on my block or apartment building.

    5) I most often talk to someone of another race: (You’re supposed to check one, I’m adding my own, “on the internet”.)

    6) In my Facebook stream, 100% are of a different race. (Different from someone.)

    7) In the past year, I have been in the home of someone of a different race “- good” times.

    8) In the past year, someone of a different race has been in my home “- good” times.

    9) At work we have managers of “dog, horse and a great variety of ” different races.

    10) In the past year, I have eaten a meal with someone of a different race “- gluten free” times.

    I’ll spend the weekend on the essay questions. Alone. Without anyone of another race.

    • #20
    • March 20, 2015, at 8:02 PM PDT
    • Like
  21. David Deeble Member

    One wonders which initiatives Starbucks executives dismissed.

    • #21
    • March 20, 2015, at 8:32 PM PDT
    • Like
  22. Dick from Brooklyn Thatcher

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: I’ll go with Gentry Liberals Assuaging White Guilt With Disastrous Marketing Strategy.

    YES! My new favorite phrase: “Gentry Liberals”…. used twice on Ricochet in the same day. Its a trend, I tell you. Here’s how you can help make it go viral.

    1. Like this comment if you think that we – and the RNC – should NEVER STOP using the phrase “Gentry Liberals” to describe liberals who are rich enough to insulate themselves from their bad ideas.
    2. Use the hashtag #gentrylibreals in any and all activity on twitter, facebook and instagram
    • #22
    • March 20, 2015, at 8:47 PM PDT
    • Like
  23. Hammer, The Member

    That, and the questions are patently ridiculous. If I drank coffee at Starbucks (when I do go to starbucks it is the drive through) I’d be curious how many folks I see just sitting at the tables pouring over that pamphlet. I’ll bet zero.

    This is almost as stupid as the Oprah Chai. Of course, after the Oprah Chai I think there is pretty much nothing they could do to surprise me.

    • #23
    • March 20, 2015, at 8:48 PM PDT
    • Like
  24. Dick from Brooklyn Thatcher

    Great post. Great replies.

    As for Starbucks, I’m torn.

    I live, work and prowl around New York City. My bladder and I rely on the ubiquity of Starbucks (ok, John Walker, Stabucks’) bathrooms. The company is really like like a urinal that also sells coffee. Its a viscous circle. If they think that they are in a position to “raise my consciousness” about race they will get only deposits and no withdrawals from me.

    Yet their stores – while noisy with lousy music – often provide me with a place to take a quick call.

    I don’t eat their lousy pastries or – heaven forfeit – their goyeshe bagels. (I’m an Irish Catholic, but a 40+ yr old native new yorker, so I’m Jewish by osmosis. Such mazel! You should be so lucky!) I take my coffee black if I order at all. No sugar. I’m a nutritional caveman too.

    For all of their liberal twaddle, they do two things that I like.

    1. They employ lots of young people and allow them to join their health insurance plan. Yes I know that without the liberals there would be fewer young people in need of barista jobs or health insurance plans – but Starbuck’s (See what I did there, John W) provides entry level jobs and treats its employees well.
    1. I actually liked the sentiment of their job stimulating program in the wake of the financial crisis through which they sold $5 bracelets to raise money to fund community development loans to domestic businesses in poor neighborhoods. (However, upon reading the fine print, it seems that some of the money was sucked into nebulous things like, “nonprofit organizations.” I bet ACORN got their hands on it eventually.
    • #24
    • March 20, 2015, at 8:50 PM PDT
    • Like
  25. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    Ryan M:…I’d be curious how many folks I see just sitting at the tables pouring over that pamphlet. I’ll bet zero.

    On the other hand, pouring over the pamphlets could be very emotionally satisfying. I recommend pouring the leftovers of stale fat-free mint-caramel mocachinos with soyfoam all over those darn pamphlets ;-)

    • #25
    • March 20, 2015, at 8:55 PM PDT
    • Like
  26. rosegarden sj dad Inactive

    Guys: I think everybody is being too hard on Starbucks. This is a marketing campaign: somewhere, somehow, their research and focus groups are telling them that this campaign will increase penetration and usage among some core groups that they want: maybe gentry liberals, middle class blacks, young people, whatever. They are allowed to pander in any way that works for them. We should all cool down and let them go make a buck.

    • #26
    • March 20, 2015, at 9:06 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. Lash LaRoche Inactive

    Does Oprah Chai cause one to rapidly lose weight and then regain it?

    • #27
    • March 20, 2015, at 9:10 PM PDT
    • Like
  28. Mark Wilson Member

    rosegarden sj dad:They are allowed to pander in any way that works for them.

    Their right to pander is not in dispute. We’re all saying how obnoxious and offensive the pandering is. And it is arguably net-harmful to the country.

    • #28
    • March 20, 2015, at 9:12 PM PDT
    • Like
  29. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    rosegarden sj dad:Guys: I think everybody is being too hard on Starbucks. This is a marketing campaign: somewhere, somehow, their research and focus groups are telling them that this campaign will increase penetration and usage among some core groups that they want: maybe gentry liberals, middle class blacks, young people, whatever. They are allowed to pander in any way that works for them. We should all cool down and let them go make a buck.

    People gotta do what they gotta do to make a buck, sure, but there’s no reason we can’t also be amused by their attempts.

    Even Starbucks’ employees tend to be wryly amused by Starbucks’ antics, or at least that has been my experience.

    • #29
    • March 20, 2015, at 9:13 PM PDT
    • Like
  30. Yeah...ok. Inactive

    The same brains who started this, also called for a pass at the goal line.

    • #30
    • March 20, 2015, at 9:16 PM PDT
    • Like
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4