Starbucks has released an new initiative that is bound to be one of the worst ideas this year. The coffee chain’s “RaceTogether” program is encouraging baristas to spark racial dialogue with customers.
In a country that has a terrible track record for having honest conversations about race, what could go wrong? This new initiative also begs the question: Are Starbucks baristas paid enough to essentially serve as anti-racism educators while making lattes?
Starbucks published a full page ad in the New York Timeson Sunday — a stark, black, page with a tiny caption “Shall We Overcome?” in the middle, and the words “RaceTogether” with the company logo, on the bottom right. The ad, along with a similar one on Monday in USA Today, is part of an initiative launched this week by the coffee store chain to stimulate conversation and debate about the race in America by getting employees to engage with customers about the perennially hot button subject.
Beginning on Monday, Starbucks baristas will have the option as they serve customers to hand cups on which they’ve handwritten the words “Race Together” and start a discussion about race. This Friday, each copy of USA Today — which has a daily print circulation of almost 2 million and is a partner of Starbucks in this initiative — will have the first of a series of insert with information about race relations, including a variety of perspectives on race. Starbucks coffee shops will also stock the insert.
The jokes have already begun to write themselves on Twitter. The hashtag #RaceTogether has taken off.
— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) March 17, 2015
The fact that #RaceTogether even exists is itself a testament to the fact that white supremacy generates layers upon layers of stupidity.
— Crystal Fleming (@alwaystheself) March 17, 2015
What I want to do: 1. Eat pizza 2. Pay off my loan debt … 77. Hang out with Rihanna … 895. Talk about race at Starbucks #RaceTogether
— Ameena Rasheed (@AmeenaRasheed) March 17, 2015
Read more at Fortune.