Starbucks has closed 8,000 stores for its employees’ racial bias training.

Interfaith clergy leaders stage a sit-in at the Center City Starbucks, where two black men were arrested, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S. April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mark Makela - RC15AE2D0600

It was after an employee called a police officer who arrested two African American men at a Philadelphia store. The two men did not buy anything, but were waiting for their friends to come.
On May 29th starbucks will close thousands of American stores and hold training courses on how to prevent racial prejudice. Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of events at the starbucks in Philadelphia last week. Two African American men were arrested after an employee called the police. Philadelphia police released the 911 call this afternoon.
(record file)
Unidentified operator: Philadelphia police station operator 363 – how can I help you?
Unidentified person: hi. There are two men in my cafe who refuse to buy or leave. I’m at starbucks and spruce on 18th.
Chang: the police eventually led the men in handcuffs, and one of their videos was infected. NPR’s Joel rose is in Philadelphia and joins us now. Hi, Joel.
JOEL ROSE, wired: hey, Ailsa.
CHANG: so what are the training courses that starbucks is planning?
ROSE: as you said, the company will close all of its 8,000 company-owned stores on the afternoon of May 29, providing racial bias training for nearly 175,000 employees. This is both a retail employee and an office worker. Starbucks says the training will be designed by some fairly large names, former attorney general Eric holder and the national association for the advancement of colored people. It aims to solve the company’s internal – according to company’s implicit prejudice, promote the conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination, and make sure everyone feel inside starbucks, citing “security and welcome.
CHANG: can you tell us that the company has reacted since it was arrested on video until now?
ROSE: well, CEO Kevin Johnson has been apologizing almost all the time, because video is broken. He appeared in a television interview. He flew to Philadelphia. He met the mayor here. Johnson also personally met with the two men arrested, and he was very much convinced that what had happened was a mistake. He called it deplorable. ‘it’s not who we are, it’s not who we are going to be,’ Mr. Johnson said.
CHANG: what was the early response from starbucks announcing the training course they were planning?
ROSE: at least one marketing professor from Philadelphia got some good reviews. I spoke to him. His name is Americus Reed. He teaches at the Wharton school, where he studies brands and social identities. Reid thinks this is a bad thing for starbucks. But in response, he says the company has done a good job of showing that it does care about the experience of African American customers.
AMERICUS REED: I think they’ve shown a leadership style that is more senior management, and you can say that they’re aware of these issues, and they want to actually deal with them. So, you know, yes, we can beat them if something happens. But I still hesitate to say, well, all starbucks has a systemic problem.
ROSE: reed says that starbucks is providing a lot of textbook responses to this pr crisis. First, you try to empathize with the people who are affected. Two, you show that you are taking action. Three, you try to control the narrative, which seems to be what they do here.
CHANG: two men arrested last week? Did they say anything publicly?
ROSE: so far they have said very little. Their lawyer, Stuart Cohen, held a press conference in Philadelphia today. He read a joint statement by male and starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. This is a clip from the Cohen press conference.
(press conference)
Stewart Cohen: Mr. Johnson apologized on behalf of starbucks and continues today to talk about how this painful event has become a tool for positive social change.
Ross: but Cohen really didn’t ask any questions, and he didn’t really answer a lot of questions about his clients, including the most obvious ones. So there are many, we still don’t know their stories.


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