Two Philadelphia-area Starbucks baristas revealed details about their experience with the company's racial bias training — and it isn't looking good.
What led up to this?
Starbucks held a company-wide racial bias training on Tuesday, closing down about 8,000 stores in the process.
Starbucks made the decision to hold the training after the franchise faced huge backlash when a Philadelphia store manager called the police on two black men who were waiting for a colleague and hadn’t purchased anything at the store.
Kevin Johnson, the company’s CEO, issued a public apology to the men in a statement.
“I’m writing this evening to convey three things: First, to once again express our deepest apologies to the two men who were arrested with a goal of doing whatever we can to make things right,” Johnson said. “Second, to let you know of our plans to investigate the pertinent facts and make any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again. And third, to reassure you that Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.”
What did the baristas say?
The anonymous baristas, who spoke to Philadelphia Magazine in an interview published Thursday, said that the company's training completely missed the mark and only made them uncomfortable.
According to the article, the baristas — a 24-year-old Latino male and an 18-year-old black female — said that instead of "addressing racial tension head on, the training mostly 'beat around the bush.'"
"I was really disappointed when I walked out of there because I was expecting so much more," the female barista told the magazine.
According to the interview, the training barely skimmed the initial incident that set off the need for the racial bias training.
"It felt like we were off task the entire time because we didn’t reflect on the situation itself," the female barista said. "The training materials focused a lot on police brutality, which had nothing to do with the incident that happened."
The male barista added that the incident was addressed only after employees brought it up in conversation.
The female barista said that the training featured video coverage of police brutality, which was upsetting.
"The videos of cops knocking people down and fighting people were really disturbing," she said. "I told them I didn’t like the video and they told me they understood and that I was open to give my opinion."
The male barista said that a girl at his table "actually had to get up and leave because video after video they showed black people being assaulted by police or black people being verbally assaulted and white people being racially biased toward people of color."
"It offended her," he explained. "She left after that."
The female barista added that the training felt more like an African-American history class than anything else.
The male barista said that he felt like he was being "made the center of attention" because he is Puerto Rican.
"If your racial training is supposed to be inclusive, why aren’t you also talking about what white people face, since they’re part of the problem too?" the male barista asked. "As a Puerto Rican, it felt I was being made the center of attention for what seemed to be a PR stunt."
Business Insider published a Wednesday report that detailed some of the other topics included in the training.
According to Starbucks employees who spoke to the outlet, some topics covered Tuesday during the training included questions to employees about their “natural hair” as well as how often friends of different races visit their homes.
The training also included a "personal notebook" for employees, which encouraged them to become "color brave" and asked employees to detail experiences such as "the first time you felt your race affected your ability to build a rapport with your manager" and "the first time you had a friend of a different race who regularly visited your home."
On Wednesday, Starbucks published the notebook template for public consumption.