March 2016: Starbucks Has Solved the Problem with Race in America

INT. STARBUCKS EXECUTIVE BOARDROOM

It’s March 2016, one year since Starbucks launched the #RaceTogether campaign. The CEO of Starbucks and three executives (JIM, STEVE and CARL) are meeting to talk about its progress.

CEO
Well gentlemen, they said it couldn’t be done, but here we are: one year after the launch of #RaceTogether, and Starbucks has solved America’s race problem!

JIM
I’ll frap to that!

They all noisily slurp frappuccinos through straws.

CEO
Now, let’s review some of the strategies on this campaign; see if we can evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Steve?

STEVE
Well, instead of asking customers if they want their coffee “black,” our baristas now ask if they’d like it “African American.”

JIM
And if they don’t, we ask, “Well, why not? Are you a racist?”

CEO
Good. Good. An excellent way to open up discussion. What else?

STEVE
We decided to pull Flat White coffees off the menu. The term was too loaded.

JIM
That, coinciding with encouraging our social media fans to use hashtag #BlackCoffeeMatters, really made an impact.

CEO
Smart. What else?

STEVE
Well, I’m proud to announce that as of last week, we now have 97% participation in the program to misspell all customers’ names on coffee cups.

JIM
And not just the hard-to-pronounce, ethnic-sounding ones.

CEO
Excellent! Let’s see if we can get it up to 100% by the end of the quarter. But all in all, gentlemen, excellent work. This has been a huge success.

CEO raises his frappuccino cup.

CEO
To #RaceTogether!

STEVE AND JIM
To #RaceTogether!

CEO, STEVE and JIM noisily slurp their frappuccinos once again. CARL looks uncomfortable.

CARL
I’m sorry, I feel like I have to say something here. I’m not sure Starbucks has had any impact on Americans’ opinions about race.

CEO
What do you mean? In the year since we launched this campaign, there hasn’t been one incident of a cop shooting an unarmed black man.

CARL
Yes there has! There’ve been fourteen incidents! And the latest one was just last week!

STEVE
Sure, but when was the last time one happened in a Starbucks?

JIM
Great point, Steve. And that kind of progress has significantly boosted coffee sales.

CARL
That’s disgusting! We shouldn’t be tying America’s race problem to our profits!

JIM
Whoa whoa whoa Carl–“Hands Up Don’t Shoot” the messenger!

CARL
All we’ve done is appropriate a social justice movement for our own financial gain!

CEO
Carl, it sounds like you’re not comfortable with this.

CARL
I’d say that’s correct.

CEO
And that’s disappointing to me, that even after all this work, you’re still uncomfortable talking about race. But I think we can get you there. I want you to go down to our nearest in-store location, order yourself something off the NAACP-curated menu, and have a long conversation about reparations with one of our baristas of color.

CARL
I’d really prefer to be moved off of this campaign altogether.

CEO
Well, I’d prefer not to have a VP who can’t even have an impromptu nuanced discussion about race relations with a Starbucks employee he’s never met, but…fine. What would you like to work on, Carl?

CARL
Something I can feel good about! How about: The Starbucks campaign to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict–“A #TwoLatteSolution!”

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