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Starbucks: Don’t Close the Stores, Close Corporate Headquarters

Starbucks CEO has an epic fail in grappling with his racism problem. He is unprepared, and has no clue about how to be prepared. Don't expect this to end well.

In the aftermath of the racist incident in a Philadelphia Starbucks store, the company is going to close 8,000 Starbucks stores on May 29th for hastily prepared diversity training.

It's a mistake.


If there was a problem with the temperature of the milk used to put in coffee, it would take them longer to study the problem than six weeks, and they wouldn't hire celebrities (Eric Holder?) in an attempt to give them credibility. The speed at which they are doing this says to me that this is a PR reaction. But it's not a PR problem. As evidenced by the poor human capital results on their own corporate leadership page (57 people pictured, 19 women, three Blacks, no apparent Latinxs), the corporate culture needs to be repaired from the head down — as it does for all strategic business problems.

Why would senior leadership think it was okay to rush into diversity training with just six weeks' preparation after a major traumatic event? White privilege.

I would assume the CEO of Starbucks is a nice man. Unfortunately, however, Kevin Johnson has no apparent connections with diversity. He spent 16 years at Microsoft, a company with a poor record for developing women, Blacks and Latinos. He was also CEO of Juniper Networks for five years — a company with no women, Blacks or Latinos in the 10 executives pictured on their leadership page. Johnson apparently has no national philanthropic connections to broaden his experience — no national nonprofit board seats, no named scholarships or endowments that I could find. This doesn't make him a bad guy, but with his background, can he really lead an 8,000-store diversity effort with 175,000 employees with six weeks' notice?

No.

His background is just fine if Starbucks' goal is to serve coffee to just white men. However, Starbucks' stock has been skidding sideways for three years; I doubt that's what the board of directors wants him to do. I don't think the board cares particularly about diversity either (after the #RaceTogether incident, you would think they would've gotten serious), but they do care about coffee sales.

So why has the board of directors approved this move to close 8,000 stores? White privilege.

Johnson was interviewed by Don Lemon on CNN two days ago — Don Lemon tried to get Johnson to speak with clarity on the reason the Philadelphia incident happened. Johnson said, "There's something in our society we need to take seriously." But when Lemon pressed him to say what that "something serious" is, Johnson changed the subject to talk about closing all the stores.

IT'S RACISM KEVIN.

The first step to fixing Starbucks' culture is to admit it. Plainly. Clearly. Since the CEO has no apparent understanding of the target of the overwhelming majority of racism in this country, to fix the problem at his company, he needs to get some background. It starts with the CEO (not with the stores) and it can't be done by proxy. So the next time a Black man asks you what the problem is, you'll be able to answer him with clarity and honesty. If you have no clarity and honesty, you cannot expect to lead an effort to bring clarity and honesty to the customer-facing people of your business. You need to give up the concept that your white privilege entitles you to be an expert on the subject. You aren't an expert, this wasn't an isolated incident and you're doing your customers and shareholders a disservice.

The Conversation (5)
22 Apr, 2018
Luke, Thank you very much for your commentary and perspective on this. What is even more disturbing is the editorializing by Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz revealing a self-serving approach to “reconciliation” between two men who had no idea that they were at risk through a routine request and subjective refusal by a supposed ‘manager’ not allowing them to use the public restroom as well as her motivation within two minutes to summon Philadelphia police to exercise the most punitive response. Sending a message to who she deemed subordinate and the need to remove them from her presence and to put them in their place – lockup. Schultz’ default response editorializing his apathy for her and saying how she ‘probably’ feels bad and wants to reconcile is completely opposite of the truth. He has now culturally mandated compliance from two guys that did nothing wrong but now if they somehow don't immediately jump at the chance to sit down with her and have her poor little privileged self come up with bogus justifications as to why she did what she did seeking validation not only for her but indirectly for Schultz/Starbucks too. Don't be surprised if she seeks legal counsel and counter sues Starbucks saying corporate training was somehow ambiguous and gave her discretion in doing this crap. Now there's more information about this manager's true disdain for minorities from a former employee that was abused by her. Also in Starbucks rush to do damage control did they neglect to see just how many ‘trespassing’ phone calls she placed routinely summoning Philadelphia Police? This emotional connection Schultz established for an employee whose actions are despicable speak to his comfort level coming to the aid of this poor misguided damsel offering a Come to Jesus moment that he's trying to construct. This overt enabling is what the African-American consumer is sick of and we reject wholeheartedly. It is getting us locked up and killed on a daily basis. He's the one who needs cultural diversity training that he should seek from one of his board members Roslyn Brower if not additional. Schultz owes the African-American community an apology by not strongly emphasizing Starbucks immediate rejection of this woman as a former employee proven to be completely unfit to be a representative of their company. Instead Schultz passive aggressively elicits double jeopardy for people of color to be victimized if not physically but financially and emotionally through his cultural naivete. We have the responsibility of immediate forgiveness let bygones be bygones which has to be carried out in as few new cycles as possible…could use stronger language but I'll just say that is gross. These men were minding their own business and now they have another national spotlight on them so NOW if they don't cede to HIS approach ASAP they will be typecast as ungrateful opportunistic angry black men. Suppose you want to have cameras and a film crew there to capture the best optics for your Kumbaya moment? Not one white person can would ever have to think that if they request access to a public bathroom that they won't be given access the same as anyone else, in addition that they will be criminalized and civil liberties will be removed and MAYBE restored hours later. This is the cultural battle the people color always have to navigate since we have no idea when the marginalizing disrespect emerges and being conditioned in real time de-escalation strategies. You can never reveal what your true outrage is. When comedian Chris Rock gives irreverent comment about being Black in America is “having an uncle that puts you through college and molests you along the way”. We get it… And we get it on a routine basis daily, weekly, cyclically. Continual overt examples of this racist behavior, take your pick – LA Fitness anyone? Again we get it this administration is just like a truth serum and brings out the overt disdain and the real devaluation of people outside your tribe. In our community were brought up to know not just where to go but more importantly where not to go. The Black community is not naïve enough to think that this is how Starbucks conducts business. We know this loser was just a hater chick and there are more like her in the shadows until the next aha moment. The scary thing is she's not some old crusty baby boomer from some backwoods area. Urban Philly is about is culturally diverse as it gets so where she got her primary or formal education she brought her hate with her and brewed up and dished it out until outed publicly. I believe Starbucks and the African-American community do not have the corporate responsibility of solving this hate issue but people like the chairman Schultz don't know the real deal are doing more harm than good and THEY need to be educated ASAP. Luke, hope you can give this guy some insight if he & others in his position will listen. Luke, Thanks for your commitment to accountability!!
Jayme S. Ganey20 Apr, 2018
Most of us are probably supporting businesses that don’t prioritize diversity. But bringing attention to it clearly gets the leadership talking when dollars are potentially at stake. Calling leaders out needs like this may be the match that lights the fire.
Kevin Canessa19 Apr, 2018
Luke -- what do you suggest consumers do here? I love certain Starbucks beverages, but is it wrong to support a business with such a tone-deaf CEO and one who clearly has no apparent diversity training and no clue about diversity management?

Update: Illinois Task Force Rushes to Release Details That Contradict 'Security' Hat Claim

Jemel Roberson family's attorney says the task force has a habit of not disciplining, firing, or criminally charging officers in police shootings.

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The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force released a preliminary report less than three days after the shooting of Jemel Roberson, Black security guard in Robbins, Ill, which contradicted what witnesses and Roberson's family attorney have said.

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Michelle Obama Talks 2020 Presidential Election

"I think, at this point, everybody's qualified and everyone should run," Obama said, in jest. "I might even tap Sasha!"

We've never had a POTUS and FLOTUS like the Obama's before, and we've never had a Trump before. Two very different presidencies, one wrought with bigotry, racism and rampant white supremacy, and scandal, the other full of hope, unity and service. Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama says we need to pay attention to who is qualified in the next presidential election.

"I implored people to focus and think about what it takes to be commander-in-chief," Obama told Robin Roberts in a "20/20" interview, in reference to women electing a misogynist in 2016 instead of a qualified female candidate.

She expressed the importance of voting, but went beyond that to describe the kind of person qualified to run this country.

"The commander in chief needs to have discipline, and read, and be knowledgeable. You need to know history, you need to be careful with your words," she said.

"I'm going to be looking to see who handles themselves and each other with dignity and respect so that by the time people get to the general (election), people aren't beat up and battered," the former first lady, who said she will not run for president, stressed.

"I think this (Democratic nomination) is open to any and everybody who has the courage to step up and serve."

She even joked that at this point, anyone is qualified to run for president —even her daughter.

"I think, at this point, everybody's qualified and everyone should run," she said on Good Morning America "I might even tap (her younger daughter) Sasha!"

Obama and her husband were about service before, during and after the presidency.

Candidates like Trump, drunk with power, have a past, present, and future that mirror that intoxication.

Coming off midterms there are questions about what to do next — investigations of Trump, what lessons did we learn articles, predictions of the 2020 election, but getting back to what a leader, a public servant of this country is supposed to do — lead by serving its people — is a message that voters can review candidate criteria with.

"It's amazing to me that we still have to tell people about the importance of voting," she said. "People have to be educated, they have to be focused on the issues and they have to go to the polls if they want their politics to reflect their values."

Obama explained, "Where I'm at right now is that we should see anybody who feels the passion to get in this race, we need them in there. Let's see who wants to roll up their sleeves and get in the race. That's what the primary process is for."

In looking at Trump's record, most of his decisions have been made to serve himself. His record of cheating employees out of money, not paying taxes, discriminating against Blacks in terms of who could claim residency in his buildings, misogynistic comments, scandals around payoffs for affairs — none of it shows signs of service.

Obama writes in her new memoir "Becoming" how Trump's division and bigoted messaging tactics to garner a movement to propel his campaign impacted her own family's safety:

"The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks."

In current times, his decisions in the White House usually involve a lot of divisive words to spark attention from white supremacists, "look what I did" moments on twitter for validation, and little about what the country needs, but instead what the country should be afraid of.

And that is not why you get the job in the first place.

Racial Attack on Black Woman in NYC Being Investigated as Hate Crime

A white man stabbed Ann Marie Washington in a subway station and "started punching her in her face because she was Black," a witness said.

A 57-year-old Black woman is recovering from surgery to repair a collapsed lung because while exiting a subway in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was punched in the mouth and stabbed by a white man who called her a "Black b--ch" The NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the attack as a hate crime.

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Price Match Patty: White Woman Tells Latinx Women They're on Welfare

The Children's Place may not be so welcoming if you're Black or Brown.

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Miriam and Carlita Alejandro, Latinx sisters, shopping at The Children's Place in Camp Hill, Pa., got harassed by a nosey store clerk when they ask to price match clothes. A sales associate said the women were angry because they're on welfare.

Miriam said she was there to help a family who had lost everything in a fire by purchasing clothes for a child. Ms. Rhonda, the store clerk who was helping the ladies, said they may have to wait for the price check because the store was busy.

Miriam wrote on her Facebook page that she responded to Ms. Rhonda: "'Lancaster never gives us any issues or said such a thing, but okay.' Then Price Match Patty aka Genie who was never in our conversation started getting smart saying that we (my sister & I) 'were mad because we were on welfare.'"

Ms. Rhonda didn't know what to do when the Alejandro sisters reported what the nosey store employee said, but she attempted to chastise her. Miriam started recording to document the experience they had.




Price Match Patty has been fired, according to a company statement provided on Monday. Carlita Alejandro posted on Facebook that the company called and offered gift cards and reward points to continue spending her money at the retailer.

Because that's the way to handle your company's screw up-- buy off the people your employees have offended?

Alejandro wrote, "I will NEVER feel safe nor welcomed shopping their stores again!!"

The Children's Place has a history of discrimination. In 2000, they lost a lawsuit concerning profiling customers and had to provide anti-discrimination training in all stores in Massachusetts and hire a consultant to look at their policies.

Unrelated to the incident, two executives left the company this week (Pamela Wallack and Anurup Pruthi), "to pursue other opportunities" — the only minority and the only female in the C-Suite (other than the female CEO). The Children's Place Inc. has never participated in DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity competition.

CEO and president Jane Elfers said, "As we approach the last phase of our major systems implementations, the opportunity exists for significant efficiencies across the organization, and today we are announcing a more streamlined senior leadership structure."

Price Match Patty has not been fully identified yet, but some commenters on social media say she's married to a Black man, like Key Fob Kelly in St. Louis. That wouldn't excuse her behavior anyway.

Others say they have been profiled at that same store by Price Match Patty and others before:

Prosecutors Won't Charge Trump Supporter Who Threatened Don Lemon's Life

A threat on a man's life isn't a pressing issue, according to the District Attorney's office in Manhattan.

A white nationalist sent CNN host Don Lemon death threats in the fall of 2017 via Twitter. Lemon tried to pursue legal action, but was recently informed that the District Attorney's office would not be pursuing charges.

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Update: South Park Susan, Who Harassed Black Neighbors, Turns Herself In

Her racist comments cost Susan Westwood her job, her apartment, and gave her a criminal record.

Susan Westwood's racist rant landed her simple assault and criminal threats charges and a warrant after leaving the scene where she harassed the Garris sisters outside their Charlotte, N.C., apartment complex, threatening them with concealed weapons.

The fake 911 call she made saying that the sisters were trying to break in also earned her a misdemeanor warrant for misuse of the 911 system, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Westwood was booked by Sunset Beach Police on Saturday and transferred to the Brunswick County Sheriff's Department. She was later released.

The Garris sisters' attorney, Michael Phillips, brought up the safety issue in terms of concealed weapons and threats to residents to the Camden Fairview Apartments attorneys, and they agreed to evict Westwood.

"When I spoke with them and their legal counsel they agreed that that behavior was not going to be tolerated at their apartment complex," Phillips said.

Westwood had threatened to take out her concealed weapons after telling the sisters that she was white and hot, and that they didn't belong there.

The 911 call Westwood made was released by police:

"There are folks that are trying to break in. They're trying to get in the apartments. They are actually people that I've never seen here before ― but they are African American."

When the dispatcher said that police were already responding to a broken down car in that area, Westwood replied: "If you want to know my personal opinion, there's no car broken down. There's somebody trying to cause problems. Nobody breaks their car down in the best part of society."

"They just don't belong here. … Get them out of here," Westwood demanded. "I'll tell you what, I'll pay $2,500 to get them out of here."

In a recording of a call made by Garris, she told another dispatcher that she was still waiting for police while Westwood was harassing her.

Westwood was heard screaming, "You're not going to sell drugs here."

Garris had to call 911 twice to get a response about Westwood, and when they showed up Westwood had already gone. She was MIA for four days, before turning herself in.

"We are so distraught and still very upset about what has taken place only because of the color of our skin. It was so upsetting to know that today we still have this overt racism that's going on in 2018," said one of the sisters.

Related Story: I'm White and I Might Bring Out My Guns: Racist Threatens Black Women in Video

South Park Susan Full Story

Michael Cohen Confirms What We All Know — Trump Makes Racist Statements

Cohen said Trump commented in 2016: "Black people are too stupid to vote for me."

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Michael Cohen seems to be having an attack of his conscience. He is openly confirming President Trump's racist rhetoric before he became the Commander-In-Chief.

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Republican Hate Video Backfires: It Was Sheriff Joe Who Let Him Go!

Returned during W's presidency, the murderer was released by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's department.

President Trump's new midterms ad is racist, xenophobic and also false in its claim that Democrats let murderer Luis Bracamontes remain in the U.S.

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