Starbucks- we are so disappointed in you and you’re going to have to come a little harder than some apology on Twitter.
“Too Little, Too Latte”
On Sunday, dozens of protestors demonstrated outside of a Starbucks in Philadelphia and it wasn’t because there wasn’t enough whip cream in their lattes. The company has been brewing in hot water every since video surfaced last week of two black men being arrested at one of their baristas in Philadelphia. The incident has been sparking accusations of racial profiling and discrimination.
Since the incident, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson released a statement offered his “deepest apologies” and called the situation “disheartening”. But folks, both black and (some) white, are not trying to hear it as depicted in the photos below.
The viral video of the arrest has been viewed over 9 million times. It was posted on Twitter by Melissa Depino, a Philly writer who happened to be in the Starbucks when this happened . In the clip, you can see six police officers approaching the men (who were minding their business from what we can see), handcuffing them and taking them out of the establishment. The two men, who were real estate investors, met at the Starbucks last Thursday to discuss business. According to an account told by two Starbucks employees to police, when the men asked if they could use the restroom, they were told could not because they haven’t purchased anything. When asked to leave by employees, the men allegedly refused. Police were then called to report “two trespassers”. The men were reportedly asked to leave by the police three times and they refused, which led to them being handcuffed and arrested.
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@Starbucks The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
A white man, whose name is Andrew Yafee, was scheduled to meet the two men, can be seen in the video demanding to know what were they doing, what was going on and called the scene “ridiculous.” But the men cooperated and went with the police. They were taken fingerprinted and photographed and held for nearly eight hours before finally being released. No charges were filed.
In an exclusive interview with The Root, Depino said when her white friends saw the video they insisted there had to be more to the story.
“It’s like they don’t believe because they don’t see it,” she tells The Root. “But the truth is, they do see it. They see it every day. Things happen to black people every single day that would never happen to a white person simply because of implicit bias.”
But why does it have to be more to the story and the situation cannot be what it simply is? A case of unmistakable racial profiling. Starbucks is the ideal meeting place for any working professional . As a young African-American woman, there have been plenty of occasions where I have met clients and conducted business in my FAMU hoodie without ordering anything. And I used the restroom as well with no problem.
In his apology statement, Johnson reassured us that Starbucks ” stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling”, which may be all well and true. But the actions of one or few individuals can destroy the image of an entire company. Take H&M for an example. The fashion company took a major hit back in January after a few “intelligent” folks in their advertising/marketing department thought it would be a great idea to put a little black boy in a green hoodie that said “the coolest monkey in the jungle.” Come on now.
Another particular thorn that’s making this apology hard to accept are the highly-plausible scenarios on how things could have really gotten Let’s face it, its not like our recent history with black men being confronted by law enforcement deserves humanitarian recognition. Stephen Clark. Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. Freddie Gray. Trayvon Martin. Just to name a few. And as in most of these tragic cases, police do not see any faults on their part. As a matter of fact, the Philadelphia police commissioner, who happens to be a black men, defended the actions of his officers in a Facebook video saying “they did the service that they were called to do.” He then adds that as an African-American male, he is very aware of “implicit bias.”
Are you really? #BlackCardRevoked
NAACP National Director for Youth and College Division, Tiffany Loftin expresses her own view on the issue, tweeting “until white folks are just as outraged and mad about police mistreatment towards Black folks as Black folks are… you can save the social media jargon.”
Until White folks are just as outraged and mad about police mistreatment towards Black folks as Black folks are…
— Tiffany Dena Loftin (@Tiffanydloftin) April 15, 2018
The hashtag #ShutdownStarbucks and #BoycottStarbucks have started to circulate around social media. Celebrities such Philly native Kevin Hart tweeted Sunday that he hopes Starbucks will make the situation right
Message to the @Starbucks in Philadelphia….Our city is shining bright like a diamond right now. Please make this situation right. I repeat please make this situation right!!!!!!! Once again MAKE THIS RIGHT
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) April 15, 2018
Although the men have allegedly decided not to pursue legal actions, let’s hope Starbucks makes an appropriate example of their situation that extends beyond a PR statement. In the meantime, we’ll be getting our coffee elsewhere.
By Alexia McKay
Alexia is editor-in-chief and founder of RoyalTee Magazine.