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Starbucks’ ‘Race Together’ roll out was a complete disaster

Starbucks’ ‘Race Together’ roll out was a complete disaster

Gee, who saw that coming?

Earlier this morning, we reported that Starbucks launched a new social justice initiative — encouraging baristas to chat with customers about race. The campaign called ‘Race Together’ was instantly a fantastic disaster.

I mean, who would’ve imagined engaging customers on a highly politicized issue like race could have possibly gone awry?

This afternoon, Business Insider reported that Starbucks’ Global Communications Senior VP, Corey duBrowa, had shut down his Twitter account after going on a Twitter user blockfest. Why? Evidently he wasn’t interested in participating in the conversation Starbucks had started.

Interestingly, those ‘attacking’ duBrowa (at least as reported by Business Insider) appear to be of the left leaning persuasion. DuBrowa told BI, “I was personally attacked through my Twitter account around midnight last night and the tweets represented a distraction from the respectful conversation we are trying to start around Race Together. I’ll be back on Twitter soon.”

But that was only the beginning.

Vox had this article:

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Even Talking Points Memo was unimpressed:

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Then issues like this popped up:

This one, too:

And social justice warriors like this one, made the point that race is too nuanced to be explained on a sticker.

Starbucks claims they’ll address Race Together further in a shareholder meeting tomorrow, but it may be too late.

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Race together.

I’m a fan of NASCAR, is that what they want to talk about?

    Estragon in reply to rinardman. | March 18, 2015 at 1:51 am

    Too bad, this project has great potential!

    For instance, maybe the baristas can tell us all about the poor black, Indian, Asian and Latino people around the world who harvest coffee beans for Starbucks, yet live in squalor with little freedom, chance to break out of poverty, or access to health care and safe food and water.

    That could be a great conversation.

    – –

    I was a NASCAR fan for decades, but the Car of Tomorrow ruined racing for me. Combined with the trend toward the same type of cookie-cutter tracks as was in baseball stadiums built in the late ’60s, it’s boring to me now, YMMV.

Oh my gosh! I thought it said #MaceTogether, so I reached into my purse and gave that nice coffee server a face-full of pepper spray! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry!!!

memo self: next time remember the reading glasses

    aGrimm in reply to Amy in FL. | March 18, 2015 at 4:28 am

    Heh. With you around, Starbucks better hope their baristas don’t have poor handwriting where the c looks like a p in the slogan.

    DaveGinOly in reply to Amy in FL. | March 18, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    That reminds me of the time I first clicked on a link to I thought it said “free bacon.” Imagine my disappointment!

Disg-race Together

At least they’re not cowards, eh Mr Holder? Nudge nudge

What a joke. Starbucks is a place for privileged middle and upper class liberals to spend more on a single cup of coffee than a working class person spends on an entire meal.

Lets get all the privileged people to talk about how enlightened they are about race. You know, because that always works out so well.

“there are no coloured hands in the press photos”

Does that mean we’re supposed to talk about relations between whites and “coloureds”?

    Starnick in reply to Joseph. | March 18, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Yeah, the SJW crowd certainly seems to talk like someone from the 1950’s these days…us vs them mentality, self-segregation. Especially with the outrage of non-“their race” using cultural images or references (e.g. the water goddess logo). Everyone needs to be in their nicely defined box with a little ribbon on top. Not exactly progressive!

      DaveGinOly in reply to Starnick. | March 18, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      According to Wikipedia, where it mentions the appearance of “Yemoja”:
      “As Nana Borocum or Nana Burku, she is pictured as a very old woman, dressed in black and mauve, connected to mud, swamps, and earth.”

      According to AdWeek (, the logo is based on a 16th Century European woodcut.

      The image of “Yemaya” in the the tweeted image is very likely based on the Starbucks logo, rather than the other way around. The twin-tailed mermaid/siren figure (grasping her tails) goes back several hundred years in Europe, so even if the Yoruban Yemoja is also a twin-tailed siren, there doesn’t appear to be any credible evidence that the Yoruban spirit was the inspiration for the Starbucks logo

    Not “coloreds”, but “people of color” (POC). At least, that’s what some of them prefer to be referred to as. I don’t know why anyone would want to be identified by something as superficial as the color of their skin rather than by the content of their character, but there you go!

IANAL and would like to hear (read) an expert opinion.

The topic of race and race relations is a political one.
Is it legal for Starbucks to ask its employees to join a political campaign; to advocate for a specific political point of view?

What about those who disagree with Starbucks’ “official” point of view? Will they be fired?

    Yes, the topic of race and race relations is a political one.

    Yes, it IS legal for Starbucks to ask (nay, even demand) that their employees advocate a particular point of view DURING BUSINESS HOURS / EMPLOYMENT SHIFTS. The employees do not necessarily have to hold the belief themselves, but they may be required to advocate it for employment purposes. Those same employees may generally hold / advocate whatever opinions they want “off-the-clock” so long as that “adverse” opinion is never communicated in any way in regard to that individual’s employment.

    So, for example, the employee can’t be pushing a “race” reconciliation message at Starbucks during his/her 8 hour shift, then go home, hop on Facebook and (using his/her real name) say “I’m a Starbucks employee and I believe in [insert racist meme here]”

    The employee has a Right to “Free Speech.” That Right does not come with an unlimited license to be guaranteed employment by an organization that has made a policy that is at odds with the speech by the (soon to be ex) employee. The Corporation also has rights of freedom of association, and holding a different viewpoint as to how race should be discussed is not a “protected” viewpoint.

    As long as they toe the line during business hours AND do not officially advertise that they are both Starbucks employees AND oppose the policy, they likely won’t be fired. But if the employee is vocal, it may come back to haunt him/her.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Chuck Skinner. | March 18, 2015 at 5:41 am

      Whatever the legal case, these was an absolute disaster for the Starbucks’ brand.

      I think it’s great. Pissed off employees pissing off customers, wasting time on political discussion not of their making instead of going about their regular duties is sure to drive away business. It hits their bottom line, which will leave them with less funds to give to Demonrats, and that’s a good thing.

      There are certain parts of the country where Starbucks’ customers are not going to put up with this nor agree with the hypothesis presented, and I live in one of those. If they do this here, they’ll be shutting their doors in six months. areas. This little project will go over like a lead balloon here.

        I love Starbuck’s, but there’s other places to go for lattes that don’t try to clobber me over the head with a lefty agenda. And they charge considerably less.

      There’s the letter of the law and then there’s the spirit of the law. And “legal” in no way means “right” anymore. We’ve seen ample evidence of that, especially over the past few years.

      Exiliado in reply to Chuck Skinner. | March 18, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      That sucks.
      Big time.

      I feel so lucky, knowing that I don’t need to work for that kind of employer.

On the rare occasions I stop at Starbucks, I’m paying them for a cup of coffee, not a lecture, not a conversation about race… especially from a 20-something who has very little life experience.

    Semper Why in reply to Sanddog. | March 18, 2015 at 10:50 am

    When I go to Starbucks, it’s not to get coffee. Their coffee is awful. No, when I go to Starbucks, it’s to get dessert in a cup.

I once worked for Musicland, and we were told to push a dumb pop group called Ace of Base. I said, “Nope. I will not lie to customers. If they want to know what’s good, I’m going to be honest and say what I think.” Well, they were insistent. Obviously, the record label had paid a pile of money for us to do this, because it was unusual. I said, “This company does not own my mind. They were wrong to promise a record label that they can make me parrot a sales pitch.”

I never mentioned the damned album to a single customer, and my manager knew it. They didn’t fire me, because they knew I’d kick back hard.

I hate this crap. This Starbucks campaign is like suggestive selling from hell. Stop telling your employees what to say. Stop making them look like total dicks!

Suggested reading for Starbucks Board of Directors with their morning coffee:

“Do You Have a Racially Hostile Work Environment?”


Awwwww…. Muffin.

It couldn’t have happened to a more self-righteous group of Morons (unless it maybe happened to “The Justice Brothers” AKA National Action Network and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition).

laughed SO hard at this.

This reminds me of when Obama said we should talk about race at work, around the “water cooler”.

That was a good plan to get us all fired….

Among the things I really want to do is pay a premium for overrated coffee and have someone darn nearly 50 years younger explain race to me.

What a terrific marketing idea. And Starbucks management is amazed that it wouldn’t fly well? If I had any Starbucks stock, I’d sell it immediately.

    peg_c in reply to greener. | March 18, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Maybe someone will get fired today. Could that nightmare marketing idea have been timeds any more poorly? Heh.

    “SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Mar. 11, 2015– Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) will hold its 2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. PT. The event will be webcast and can be accessed at”

Empress Trudy | March 18, 2015 at 10:38 am

You’re all the same race to me, in the dark.

Putting aside the impact on employees of being encouraged or even forced to mouth a particular political agenda, it is difficult to conceive of a worse business decision. Politics and sales don’t mix. A sensible for profit business enterprise does not drive away customers who don’t share the owners political agenda or passions, it sells to advocates for both parties and to people with all points of view. I’ve enjoyed Starbucks’ products before, but now will go elsewhere.

Oh my stars, that Mark Steyn is so naughty!

But now you’ll be able to listen to your barista’s views on slavery reparations as you wait twenty minutes for your Trayvonato with an extra shot. No justice, no peace, no foam.

He’s going to hell in gasoline underwear for that! As am I, probably, for laughing at it! Someone pray for me!! xx

I’ve always avoided Starbucks. I didn’t want to learn their made up pseudo esperanto just to order a large coffee. Everything Starbucks has done over the years has validated my decision.

Dunkin Donuts, Tim Horton’s, or any independent coffee house, but no Starbucks for me.

For some reason I think the ‘starbucks conversation’ could go something like this:

So SB now says it’s barrista-led-conversation-starting campaign was only intended to last a week and is “being ended”:–sector.html

OK. Crock, meet s**t.

I’d respect SB if it had quietly started opening stores in inner city black neighborhoods and Hispanic neighborhoods. To lecture its customers after building a billion dollar business catering to the tastes of its target market – upwardly mobile middle class whites – is beyond crass. And the epitome of “white guilt”.