It’s pretty standard to engage in conversation about the weather or the upcoming weekend with a barista as he or she is making your grande non-fat latte in the morning, but now Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wants to move the discussion in a different direction.
This week, Schultz wants Starbucks baristas to start talking about race relations with customers, rejecting the idea that race is “too hot a topic” for a business to take on.
Fortune reports the coffee empire took out a full-page ad in the Sunday New York Times. “A stark, black, page with a tiny caption ‘Shall We Overcome?’ in the middle, and the words ‘RaceTogether’ with the company logo, on the bottom right,” Fortune describes.
Beginning on Monday [March 16], Starbucks baristas will have the option as they serve customers to hand cups on which they have handwritten the words “Race Together” and start a discussion about race. This Friday, each copy of USA Today — which has a daily print circulation of almost 2 million and is a partner of Starbucks in this initiative — will have the first of a series of insert with information about race relations, including a variety of perspectives on race. Starbucks coffee shops will also stock the insert.
Baristas are not obligated to discuss race with any customer and can opt-out of the company’s movement. But each cup will have “Race Together” written on it regardless.
The hashtag #racetogether currently has 549 posts on Instagram. Most of them are of coffee cups.
This barista seems to be on board. She captioned her Instagram photo: “Writing this on almost every cup in drive thru this morning. Spreading awareness is the first step towards racial equality. #racetogether #tobeapartner#starbucks #belairplaza”
And some Twitter users aren’t so sure about the idea:
Personally, when I go to Starbucks I think, “this coffee is ok, but I could really go for a conversation on race right now.” Don’t you?
— Tamara (@LibertarianSass) March 17, 2015
Schultz will discuss this new initiative in the company’s annual shareholder meeting this Wednesday.
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