Early last week, on April 12th, two Black men were arrested inside a Philadelphia Starbucks. The store manager had called the cops, saying there was a disturbance, that these men were refusing to leave the premises, and that she was scared. In response to the call, a group of police officers came inside the establishment, did not ask the two men any questions about their presence in the Starbucks, and immediately handcuffed them and walked them out to the patrol car. During the events taking place, a customer filmed what was going on and posted it onto her Twitter, making it go viral. In response to this incident, Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr., who also happens to be a Black male, posted a video explaining why his officers did nothing wrong and responded in the proper way to the phone call that was placed.
There has been a lot of feedback from this video, both negative and positive. First, it showed how complacent these two men were as they were handcuffed and taken out of Starbucks. They had only asked if they could use the bathroom and had been denied access because they had not made a purchase and suddenly the cops came in because they were told there was a disturbance. One of the main concerns that have been brought to attention is that if it were two White men sitting in a Starbucks that hadn’t ordered anything, there would be no imaginary threat to the safety of the people inside the Starbucks. It shows how deeply instilled this fear of Black people is in White people; they immediately assume that all stereotypes that exist about Black people are true and jump to conclusions that they are criminals or aggressive and dangerous. When these cops came to the Starbucks, they were just doing their job and responding to a call. They did not exercise force on these two men, but they also did not read them their rights or ask them any questions about what had occurred. Although there was no aggression, there were still some implicit biases at play, and it seems as though the manager of the Starbucks is more at fault than these officers.
It is important to note that this incident at Starbucks is not the first not the last of racial injustices in America; it is also not the worst. But you cannot compare each injustice that is committed; each one is equally terrible and has a significant impact on the person of color. I wonder if there is a way to change the curriculum inside our schools from a younger age that aims to educate kids about racism, rather than teaching them some fetishized history that glorifies White privilege. How come people were so quick to categorize this as racism when there are so many other microaggressions that happen everyday that go unnoticed? Where do people draw the line and why?
3 thoughts on “Starbucks Doesn’t Serve their Coffee Black”
This Starbucks situation was a huge failure. Co-workers, management, cooperation officials and law enforcement officials all handled this extremely poorly. It is unfortunate considering Starbucks is known for being a location in which is who they are because they allow people to sit, and wait, for hours on end. These men were doing no wrong, and I have see various times, people of privilege in Starbucks doing the same exact things, and no questions were asked, and no hands were raised. Police officers took no responsibly which is a major problem. When law enforcement officers refuse to take responsibly of doing something wrong, that sets in a domino effect. It is unfortunate that major people are controlled by implicit bias and have no desire to-change these automatic assumptions.
I remember when I first heard about this incident at Starbucks. It was all over social media and various news outlets. I am shocked, however, to read that the Police Commissioner responded the way he did. Yes, the police officers were doing their job and responding to a call, but everyone is entitled to have their rights read to them. Their was an automatic assumption that the Black men had in fact done something wrong or dangerous. After learning about implicit biases in class, I believe that while the police officers were “just doing their job”, they still held the belief in the stereotype that people of color are criminals or dangerous. Because the incident was documented and taped, people are much more likely to categorize it as racism. I think microaggressions are much more harder to identify. When people discuss racist acts, they usually refer to blatant acts of racism. Micoraggressions tend to come across in a much more subtle and implicit way. Microaggressions also involve individuals to address their own implicit biases, which is a step many individuals do not want to take.
Something I find interesting is that Starbucks are generally set up in a manner that is inviting people not only inside but to stay, chat, work, draw, etc. That is part of their pull. I have never thought anything of my welcome inside a Starbucks as a white man – however I have often stopped at a city Starbucks to bide time, work, use a bathroom with no problems. I do agree that the problem here was very easily the manager’s bias, however the whole situation – especially with demonstration of complacency is particularly interesting due to the police response and backup by the Commissioner. I think people are so easy and quick to recognize these acts as bias rather than their own and others’ microaggressions is because of the actual documented events. Police did enter and handcuff the two men. It is easy to point at that picture and say “Racism!” than to acknowledge the actual unease and discomfort of the store manager. To identify these microaggressions , people must first acknowledge their own potential for implicit biases, and that is its own learning process.
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