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The Race Doesn’t Stop at Race Together for Starbucks
By: Andrea Jackson
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Generally speaking, people stop into Starbucks for the experience — calming music, friendly baristas, quality food and beverages, and, of course, free wifi. You have to admit, free wifi in public places is like gold to the average citizen. But what has taken place recently with the company has stirred up much more than just good coffee; it stirred up often-uncomfortable conversations.

The Race Together campaign set out to get patrons discussing racial inequalities present within society. On the heels of the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz decided to bring awareness to more of the inequalities that are often ignored. The actions to get this initiative going included open forums with community leaders and citizens, writing content in special sections of USA Today, and by simply writing “Race Together” on the cups that were served.

The campaign, however, was met with resistance. Many believe the campaign was poorly executed, no matter how positive the desired end result may have been. According to NPR’S Code Switch, conversations suggested that Starbucks employees were placed at risk for backlash from customers.

Schultz stated, “While there has been criticism of the initiative — and I know this hasn't been easy for any of you — let me assure you that we didn't expect universal praise. We leaned in because we believed that starting this dialogue is what matters most. We are learning a lot."

Although baristas are no longer writing “Race Together” on cups as of March 22, the campaign isn’t over. The company plans to open up locations in minority communities, hire disadvantaged youth, and continue hosting forums and other events.

What’s seen here is an attempt to do the right thing. Is the backlash justified? Is the Starbucks CEO taking a large step — one that others have been afraid to take in the past? Will this campaign inspire others to also take a stand? Share your thoughts.

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About the Author
Andrea Jackson is a Speech and Debate Teacher and Florida native. With her Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and Master of Science in Global Strategic Communications, both from Florida International University, she enjoys keeping up with the communications industry and its latest advances. Her interests include public speaking, speech writing, copywriting/editing, and blogging.
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