Some of my best friends are Carmel Macchiatos.
This is really happening. No not Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather , I mean, that IS happening, but no, this is better. And no- not Al Sharpton going undercover to capture a top Isis lieutenant . Avengers opus 2? Could be fun, but you’ll have to wait a couple months. The NCAA basketball tournament is upon us, but honestly that has about as much mystery as an episode of Dateline. Spoiler alert. The husband did it. Also, Kentucky will be your National Champion. What’s better than all of the above wrapped in bacon??? Brace yourself.
Starbucks has entered our national pastime of ‘all things race’ by launching a program wherein their ( your ) Barista is encouraged to engage the customer in a conversation about race. Baristas are even writing on your cup ‘#RaceTogether’ .
Howard Schultz the CEO of Starbucks has a history of making his personal opinion known on matters that have significant cultural relevance. That’s certainly his right. But on this, he’s oh so wrong.
Not only do we not know HOW to talk about race- we don’t even know how to talk about TALKING about race. I’m always curious when anyone suggests a ‘National conversation about race’ when as a people, we struggle to say ‘excuse me’ or ‘good morning.’
No offense to Baristas, but um, we don’t know each other like that.
Is this the future? Will the teller at my bank now engage me in a discussion about race?
“ Hey Zach, I couldn’t help but notice, you seem to have steady employment and an impressive money market account. I’m wondering if you’ve given any thought to the racial wealth gap in America?’
Or maybe a waiter could drop by my table with a little riff on race.
“Hello. I notice that your date is a black woman. I wanted to ensure that you see her as a complete woman and not just some fetish. Also- would you like to hear about the specials tonight?
I asked for ‘NO WHIP CREAM’!!!!! Why is this Mocha exploding with whip cream? You tuned me out 9 seconds ago when it was about ‘whip cream’ but now you want me to tell you about the time I knew I loved black women? What’s that? You’re out of the Turkey-bacon and egg on a muffin? It’s cool. I’m really here to discuss W.E.B. DuBois theory on ‘double consciousness’!!! Ready? Um….make it stop.
Aren’t there some logistical challenges as well?
~ “I know I’m holding up the line!!! But this barista just asked me why the media never talks about ‘white on white crime! I need a minute to think!!!”
It’s not the baristas idea. It is the idea of yet another, in a long line of embarrassing, disconnected saviors. And while the idea of people talking and listening about ANYTHING is wonderful, the author of this idea is beyond tone deaf when considering the way most people come to this conversation.
I had a conversation with a Starbucks barista about race. It was literally minutes ago. I said, “Hi. How are you?” To which she replied, “ I’m tired of drunk white people coming here to use the bathroom so they can vomit. It happens every year during the St. Patricks Day festivities. “
“Such douchebags” I replied.
She smiled. Greatest Starbucks conversation on race ever.
I’ve tried in the past, and failed, to convince even the most passionate and righteous of do-gooders, to simply listen. Because while yes, we are all in this together, there is a world of prejudice that so many people never glimpse. And by swooping in to save the day, as we so often do, we minimize the hurt. Even if it comes with whip cream.