Starbucks Just Learned that Virtue Signaling Isn’t Enough, You’ve Got to Be Virtuous

Remember when then Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz declared that his baristas were now going to spend their time serving coffee and lecturing–oh, oops–discussing race with their customers? Because who better to discuss race relations than a Starbucks employee?

I’m sure that’s what the two black men who were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucksthought. “Boy, I’m sure glad I’m in a place where the entry-level employees were supposed to talk about race! I’m benefiting from that discussion right now!”

Now, to be fair, Starbucks stopped that initiative almost as soon as they started it. Schultz said it was ended as planned, but people were cynical–it seems more likely that when the entire world didn’t go, “Wow! I want a lecture with my coffee!” Starbucks reconsidered.

Look, racism is a huge problem. This is one of those situations where unconscious bias–the part where our brain lies to us–plays out. Technically, I’m sure, managers are allowed to kick out people who are using Starbucks space and not purchasing any food or drink. But, the fact is, the black men’s behavior was not unusual. People met friends at coffee shops all the time, and sometimes not everyone buys something and sometimes people wait for the others to arrive to order something.

To keep reading, click here: Starbucks Just Learned that Virtue Signaling Isn’t Enough, You’ve Got to Be Virtuous

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17 thoughts on “Starbucks Just Learned that Virtue Signaling Isn’t Enough, You’ve Got to Be Virtuous

  1. I agree that the police could have also handled this situation better. Normally, when law enforcement is called out on a trespassing case, they merely issue a “trespassing warning” and allow the accused to leave; arrest is usually not involved.

    1. Agreed. When it was clear that the guys were just sitting there, they shouldn’t have arrested them.

      1. It depends. Did they tell the guys to leave, and they argued? If so, the cops have limited options (as the PD spokesman pointed) if they’ve been told by the management of the store to make them leave.

        Listening to Starbuck’s PR flak on NPR this morning, they agree this is entirely on Starbucks (and not just the manager on site, but on the company for not training him right), and the cops acted appropriately.

        It really doesn’t matter (to the cops) if the guys were doing anything wrong or not. Once the store management has decided they want them out, it *is* trespassing, and the cops really aren’t supposed to exercise judgment on it. If they’d refused to enforce the law, they’d be in far more trouble now.

        1. I think it would have been totally appropriate for the men to “argue” with the police by pointing out the obvious fact that they were being singled out for doing the same thing as some of the White patrons present. That’s “selective enforcement” of the law, which is very much the business of law enforcement. That doesn’t mean that the police were not required to insist that the men leave — since that’s what the business was requesting — but it certainly suggests that the police were required to exercise their discretion, which is incredibly broad, in deciding whether or not to cite or arrest the individuals.

          1. It might be selective on the part of the store’s manager – Starbucks apparently agrees with that – but it’s not selective enforcement on the part of the police if they act the same every time a store manager tells them he wants someone out of his store. There’s *zero* evidence that the cops would have acted any differently if the guys had been white, or green, or Jewish, or Goth.

            When the cops tell you that you have to leave a store, arguing with them is not going to get you want you want.

  2. At a Starbucks in downtown Milwaukee, employees called about a guy who was sleeping on a bench outside of the shop. In the middle of the afternoon. Minding his own business.

    Yet he ended up being shot by a cop.

    As far as I am concerned, those Starbucks employees have blood on their hands.

    (Google “Dontre Hamilton” if you want details.)

    1. As someone who frequents this Starbucks, is acquainted with the employees on staff that day, heard the gunshots, watched Dontre Hamilton die, and knows many of the first-hand witnesses to the event, please allow me to be the first to say that summation you provide is overly-simplified horses**t.

      This happened in a tiny, urban county park where the Starbucks is located, literally surrounded by corporate offices and municipal buildings. There are occassional panhandlers that have staked out their claim to the park. Many of them know that if a customer wont give them cash, Starbucks WILL give them a free cup of coffee, and some are known by name. Close to 100% are African American. Almost all suffer from some form of mental illness or chemical dependence (they’ll tell you).

      Very few sleep on the bench. Fewer display concerning behaviors that bring their own safety into question.

      Dontre became physically violent with the police officer and took control of the nightstick. Now I’ll grant you that how the officer reacted to this is certainly up for debate, but the Starbucks employees got a bad rap then, and years later youre misrepresnting those very complex events to keep that going so you can bash Starbucks.

      TL;DR: Horsesh*t

      1. He became physically violent after he was awakened by the third cop to bother him. The first two had left him alone, despite the Starbucks calls. If I were minding my own business, in a public place, and someone startled me awake, I, too, might become violent. And yes, Mr. Hamilton was mentally ill, but that does not justify his being shot. It doesn’t even justify Starbucks calling the police about someone who wasn’t even in their store. I stand by my opinion.

  3. First of all, I want to thank Evil HR Lady for giving us a bit more facts, concerning Starbucks stupid attempt to be virtuous about racism, which explains the PC attitude comments by the white people complaining in the video about the “arrest” which only aggravated the situation from an ill-handled loitering complaint into a racist situation. I have no idea why the manager had to call the police but I know that any business has the right to ask people to leave the premise if there was a problem they felt could not be handled. My biggest concern now is the development of copycat situations–in fact, I saw one at my local Burger King while waiting for my order to be filled. A person walked in, walked around the premise, strolled up to the counter and demanded key to an occupied bathroom (premise has only one unisex bathroom which was in use). Because he didn’t get the key, he started screaming he was being racial profiled and discriminated against because he couldn’t get into the bathroom. Why does everything have to do with race when in this described situation I gave as an example, the bathroom was in use. Please, people, get real and know all the facts. I felt very sorry for the people behind the counter who had to deal with this scam to sue for money by creating a false situation that a PC liberal would accept as a full fact.
    It appears like I thought from first hearing of the Starbucks situation, that the company created the problem by allowing people to loiter in store, hogging tables for hours to use the free WiFI. At least in McDonald’s, there are signs stating 30-minute limit to stay and require a purchase to stay and use the facility. I hope the manager doesn’t get fired but gets a re-training program along with the crew as to what procedure to follow for people loitering on-premise, which will, in turn, annoy people who think hanging out at Starbucks is conducive to doing work on their computers in place of their home office.

    1. Except the Starbucks guys weren’t loitering. They were waiting to meet someone. That someone arrived and protested when the two men were being arrested.

      I sometimes wait to buy my coffee until my friend arrives.

      I have used a Starbucks restroom without buying anything on that trip.

      I have used McDonald’s restrooms without buying anything ever.

      And yet, nobody has ever told me to leave the store or called the police. I have absolutely no doubt it is because I am a white woman who looks and dresses very conventionally.

      The manager should never have told these men to leave. And she should never have called the police.

  4. Recently, I waited for 6 hours in a Starbucks while my SO was at a couple of interviews that spanned a morning and most of the afternoon. I ordered upon arrival, and like clockwork, every 1.5 hours, the manager asked me to order something else or leave. (It was a rather expensive day…) Would the manager have called the police if I had refused to do either? I have no idea. I kinda think not, and so it’s completely bizarre to me that the manager would call the police on two people who were just waiting for a friend before ordering. I agree that the situation was racial discrimination on the part of the manager. I do not, however, take any issue with the police doing their jobs as they needed to do.

  5. Starbucks is notorious for having people “office” in there. That is, they bring their laptops, set up at a table, sometimes spreading out their belongings to occupy the entire space, and stay all day, reading and writing on their computers. Sometimes, there is a visible Starbucks cup on their “desks,” but — all too frequently — there is not. And, presumably, since they’re there all day, regular restroom visits are involved.

  6. The only racism displayed in the Starbucks case was by the blacks. As is typical of all race debates these days. Non-racists know better than to let them define the terms of the debate.

  7. “But, the fact is, the black men’s behavior was not unusual.”

    Well, Evil, I love your postings and find you often hit the nail on the head; but, not this time.

    Their behavior was not acceptable. period.

    They did not purchase anything and yet asked to use the restroom. They were asked to leave and they refused. Management called the cops. The cops asked them to leave and they refused. What should the cops do then? nothing? What should management have done? nothing?

    What about the other paying customers? What about Starbucks stockholders and paying customers? Do they not matter?

    These guys and the liberal whites in the video all seemed to have played the “race card” instead of admitting that these non-paying “customers” acted like they are entitled to others’ labor for free.

    There is a word for that, and it isn’t “victim” – it is “shameful!”

    And now the CEO of Starbucks seems to have thrown the employees, and that manager, under the bus to avoid trouble with the “shake ’em down for money” crowd.

    Glad I do not patronize Starbucks or work there!

    1. The reason this is unusual is because people use Starbucks that way ALL THE TIME. Manager comes out, “Hey, you guys either need to buy something or leave.”

      Men: “We’re meeting a friend.”

      Manager: “Okay.”

      That’s what would have happened in a normal situation.

  8. I just hope that Starbuck’s day of sensitivity training will cover discrimination in all directions. I live in a city where most of the people who work at Sbux are black or Latino, and many times I have observed firsthand friendly and/or preferential treatment of blacks and Latino customers, while white customers receive eye-rolls, heavy sighs, and rudeness. And when a white person asks them to lower of change the rap music blasting so loudly one cannot have a conversation, you would not believe the attitude they give (along with refusal to do so). Racism is racism is racism, from any race to any other race, so I hope they address the whole picture to everyone.

    1. Correction: “…lower or change…”

      Of course, what I described is nowhere near as bad as calling the cops on someone, but my point is that people of all races need to be sensitive to people who are different from themselves, and not favor those who appear to be the same ethnicity. I say “appear” because I am mixed-race but appear white, and have been called a “white [expletive]” by minorities.

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