- Starbucks closed 8,000 locations across the United States on Tuesday afternoon so employees could undergo a racial-bias training.
- Baristas are speaking out on social media about the training.
- While some Starbucks workers feel the chain is trying too hard to be “woke,” many seem to be happy that the chain is trying to address issues related to racism in the US.
Last month, two black men were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks after they tried to use the bathroom without ordering anything. Footage of the arrests went viral, sparking boycott threats.
Leading up to the training, baristas and customers alike expressed a mix of scepticism and optimism.
Now, Starbucks employees have a lot to say. Many let off steam on social media on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
While Business Insider can’t confirm that all of these accounts are from people who actually work at Starbucks, the commenters spoke on topics that were discussed in the training, which is now public.
Many employees expressed support for the training
#Starbucks racial bias training made me a proud partner. They approached the topic in a very honest, intersectional way and verbalized their speech so that it was clear their words were sincere. They also made a documentary including multiethnic people to discuss awareness. ❤️
— XXXistentialist (@JohnHan76887425) May 30, 2018
Proud to be a Starbucks partner everyday but especially today as we took the time to sit down and have open communication about the problems that are happening every day in our stores. Thank you to this company for its leadership and acceptance❤️ #tobeapartner pic.twitter.com/7AnZU2kgoQ
— Megan Erin (@EganMrin) May 30, 2018
“I am really glad to have this training,” one person wrote in the Starbucks subreddit r/Starbucks. “Not because of Starbucks, because this was an obvious PR stunt, but because I was able to become closer to my fellow baristas and have deep discussions on what it means to just be human.”
I cried today at our meeting. I was so moved by how proactive Starbucks is. I’m so glad I chose to be part of this company☕️???? #tobeapartner
— Eloisa✿ (@reallyellie) May 30, 2018
I’m proud to be a partner in a company that cares about social justice. #tobeapartner
— Tim Robertson (@timrob559) May 30, 2018
Others had less positive experiences
I’ll just say that I’m terribly disappointed in the racial bias training I received as a @Starbucks partner and I certainly think that this company isn’t doing nearly enough to combat the problem it tried to tackle.
— Ryan O'Neal? (@RyanONealish) May 30, 2018
Several snarkier takes on the event came out on Reddit, where the r/Starbucks community was extremely active during and after the training.
One person wrote: “4 hours of filler with no substance, a bread sandwich if you will.”
“The actual content was pretty shallow,” said another. “All the real learning moments came from talking with other partners, which is how we learn to grow anyway.”
Starbucks’ attempts to be ‘woke’ received mixed feedback
Even among people who thought the program was beneficial, some said that a few references made Starbucks seem to be trying too hard to be a “woke” social-justice advocate.
“Truthfully, it was a lot less cringey than I thought it would be,” one person wrote on Reddit. “Now don’t get me wrong there was definitely some cringe; e.g., executives talking about Starbucks being woke, ‘dirty sweatpants’ apparently being some sort of signal for degeneracy, and the term ‘colour brave.’ But it ended up being a platform to communicate with our coworkers about our upbringing and biases, and how to apply that same understanding to customers.”
my company put something very touching, creative, and extensive together. @Starbucks this is only the beginning but we are going in the right direction, don’t be #colorblind but instead let’s be #colorbrave #StarbucksDiversityTraining pic.twitter.com/r5lSzOnmfw
— meghan (@durrrgs) May 29, 2018
The term “colour brave,” coined in 2015 by Mellody Hobson, a Starbucks board member, is meant to refer to the practice of actively addressing race and diversity instead of ignoring bias.
While Starbucks employees may have agreed with the theory, the term raised a few eyebrows.
“Suddenly, it’s ‘brave’ to interact with customers who are of another race?” one person wrote on Reddit. “What the f—ery, did someone forget that we live in 2018?”
— Signs ????♂️ (@ShayShayIX) May 29, 2018
There were also practical concerns
Some customers simply did not realise Starbucks was closed, with several people sharing stories of customers attempting to order at the drive-thru or enter a location despite signage about the training.
i wish you guys would’ve seen the faces of the starbucks customers trying to go through the drive thru and continuously trying to pull the doors open today when we closed????
— alex b. (@alexbasham_) May 30, 2018
“We had about 30 cars go through the drive-thru during the meeting,” one person wrote on Reddit. “Our store manager cried.”
“Our store doors are messed up, and they were locked,” another said. “Three different customers ripped open our locked doors during the training today.”
man the amount of people who tried coming inside Starbucks during our racial training and through drive thru was incredible , expecially when we had signs all around the building loll.
— lil ash (@ashleybelair) May 29, 2018
The closures also caused problems for licensed stores, which were open.
“I work in the Barnes and Noble Starbucks, which wasn’t closed as it’s not owned by Starbucks,” one Redditor wrote. “It was horrible, hundreds of people crowded in screaming about how the others were closed.”
Despite critiques, many Starbucks workers seem to feel the coffee chain’s mission was meaningful – even if it wasn’t perfectly executed
If you’re currently a starbucks partner and took part in the racial bias training yesterday, and you really believe that it didn’t do much and it just wasted your time… then YOU are one of the reasons why we had to have that training.
— sam???? (@PrincessSammy_) May 30, 2018
I am so proud to be a @Starbucks partner. If anyone says today’s training was a waste of a time it was only because they made it so. Thank you Starbs for having a conversation that so many people are afraid to.
— Szechuan Sauce (@GentleGag) May 30, 2018
“Props to Starbucks for taking the bull by the horns, and for setting a precedent that says that large businesses can’t really ignore what happens in their stores,” one person wrote on Reddit.
— jb . (@jayybooy) May 30, 2018
I’m so happy to see how much work and thought @Starbucks put into our training today. It was truly an eye-opening meeting and I’m proud to be a partner. That being said, it would have been better if the other partners in my store had actually taken it seriously. #ToBeAPartner
— Darice (@DariceCatherine) May 30, 2018
And others managed to find a less meaningful purpose in the day
One person wrote on Reddit: “I made $US48 and ate some good free food just for watching some videos so I’m not complaining too much, also I am now #colorbrave.”
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