“I don't have time to explain 400 years of oppression to you & still make my train.” This frank criticism from Twitter sums up the backlash the Starbucks Race Together concept has faced.The initiative was meant to spark discussion on the topic of race by having baristas write “Race Together” on coffee cups. Seemingly as soon as it began, Starbucks pulled the Race Together slogan from its coffee cups. However, CEO Howard Schultz claims that this was all part of the plan, and was not due to customer and media criticism.
“This phase of the effort — writing "Race Together" (or placing stickers) on cups, which was always just the catalyst for a much broader and longer term conversation — will be completed as originally planned on March 22,” wrote Howard Schultz in a letter to shareholders. “While there has been criticism of the initiative… 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. And will always aim high in our efforts to make a difference on the issues that matter most.”
Schultz also promised that the concept of Race Together is far from over and that Starbucks is planning open forums, more advertising in USA Today, and a promise to keep hiring “at risk youth” in urban communities.