Stop slamming Starbucks: Why ‘Race Together’ campaign matters

Stop slamming Starbucks: Why ‘Race Together’ campaign matters

Can I just get a cup of coffee – hold the rant on race?

This week Starbucks is giving its staff the option to write “Race Together” on its paper cups of coffee. The idea is to ignite coffeehouse crosstalk, conversation even debate on race relations in the era of Ferguson, Trayvon Martin and our first black president.

I’m all for honest debate and especially at a time when 40 percent of Americans say race relations are worse under Barack Obama.

But so far the reaction to Starbucks’ effort reveals why it is so hard to get people to let down their guard and open up about racial attitudes, feelings and experiences. There are major hurdles here:

Starbucks is being slammed for just trying to start the conversation. The criticism is aimed at its chief executive — “cocooned from reality if this is the action he thinks is called for,” wrote a Washington Post blogger. The criticism is also aimed at Starbucks customers as fools for paying too much for coffee and people who are “snippy, bordering on insufferable” in the words of the same blogger.

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