The Story Behind Starbucks' Black Lives Matter Shirt: Racism Crisis Over the Years [Timeline]
Have you gotten your Starbucks Blacklives Matter shirt just yet?
With the protests of George Floyd still raging on in America and the rest of the world, companies have continually shown their support not only to the black community but also to advocates and protestors who demand justice not just for George Floyd, but also for the African-Americans who have lost their lives in the ongoing war against racism and discrimination.
And one of those companies is Starbucks, an internationally renowned coffee chain whose roots began in Seattle.
After reports that the coffeshop chain will not allow its employees to show their support towards the African-American community, the coffee company has now released a t-shirt that was beautifully designed by the Starbucks' Black Partner Network and allies.
Blacklives Matter shirt
The shirt design includes a variety of phrases including "Black Lives Matter," "No Justice, No Peace," and "Everyone Vs. Racism."
In a letter that was just released yesterday by the top three executives of Starbucks: Roz Brewer, chief operating officer and group president; Rossann Williams, executive VP, president, U.S. company-operated business and Canada; and Zing Shaw, global chief inclusion and diversity officer the letter noted: "We see you. We hear you. Black Lives Matter. That is a fact and will never change,".
Black Lives Matter. We continue to listen to our partners and communities and their desire to stand for justice together. The Starbucks Black Partner Network co-designed t-shirts with this graphic that will soon be sent to 250,000+ store partners. pic.twitter.com/Wexb45RcTE — Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 12, 2020
According to a news article from Ad Age, the letter further added: "Together, we're saying: Black Lives Matter and it's going to take ALL of us, working together, to affect change. That means using our voice to vote in our elections, volunteering in our black communities, joining local peaceful protests, ensuring our diverse slates of job candidates translate into diverse hires, mentoring and sponsoring partners of color so they can reach their maximum potential and taking steps to build greater understanding with empathy,".
Racism issues over the years
It's easy for individuals to voice out their protests on the street or online. But for commercial industries, it is tricky. According to a historian at Temple University, Bryant Simon mentioned that the initial move from the coffee company was typical mentioning it to be a "particular Starbucks dance". But Simon tells The Washington Post that the recent decision came as a shock.
In his quote, he talks about how majority of mass companies thaht cater to the general public avoid having a public political statement as they do not want to drive their audience away adding that the brand and the investments will be put at risk if they do not carefully prepare for whatever consequences might be in store for them.
In 2018, Starbucks closed down all of its U.S. stores to conduct a special anti-bias training after a store manager in Philadelphia called the police wherein the two African-American men were arrested for not purchasing anything.
Three months after the incident, a barista was fired in the same state for writing the name "SSSam" on the customer's cup after mocking the customer for his stuttering disorder.
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