Breaking: Starbucks Didn't End Racism Yet

Photo: Courtesy of Starbucks.
After a week of backlash and uncomfortable coffee transactions, Starbucks is changing the direction of its controversial Race Together initiative. As of today, baristas will no longer be writing "race together" on coffee cups — a move that incited nationwide eye-rolling when it was announced last week.

But, CEO Howard Schultz insists that this change is just a planned pivot. In an open memo distributed to employees yesterday, he notes that the coffee-cup activism was "always just the catalyst for a much broader and longer term conversation," which was scheduled to end on March 22. "But, this initiative is far from over." Schultz lists a number of changes within the corporation, as well as community engagement it hopes to enable, including: expanding store branches in urban locations, a plan to hire 10,000 more young people within the next three years, a special series co-produced with USA Today, as well as "new partnerships to foster dialogue and empathy and help bridge the racial and ethnic divides within our society that have existed for so many years."

It's a tall order and one that can't help but raise eyebrows. Really, Starbucks? You're going to fix racism? But, at the end of the day, if Starbucks brass wants to throw a chunk of the company's considerable change toward such a vital issue, why not let them? Many brands have made subtle overtures toward various popular political issues (see: Tylenol's tear-jerking LGBT families ad campaign), but this is the first time a company has made its stance so clear and its mission so overt. Whether or not the Race Together initiative is a laughingstock — and so far, it basically is — its certainly succeeded at drawing awareness. You got our attention, Starbucks. Now, what are you going to do with it?

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