Starbucks wants to do more than just act as your go-to spot for your morning coffee: they also want to be the harbingers of social change. Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz hopes to open up conversations about race relations in a new initiative called Race Together, in which baristas are invited to write the phrase on coffee cups, instead of just patron’s names. The act is meant to spark meaningful discussion.
"What if we were to write 'Race Together' on every Starbucks cup, and that facilitated a conversation between you and our customers?" Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a video to his employees explaining the campaign. "And what if our customers as a result of that had a renewed level of understanding and sensitivity about the issue, and they themselves would spread that to their own sphere of influence?"
USA Today published these ideas in a free newspaper this week, explaining how racial and diversity views have changed since 1960, and how they are projected to grow by 2060. The piece also poses questions like "what is the chance that the next person I meet will be different from me?" and “How have my racial views evolved from those of my parents?”
Many Starbucks employees have already shared their experiences:
“I’m a three-year partner in a Midwest city that would have no racial diversity if not for the college nearby,” writes barista Desirae. “I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked me, ‘What are you?’ ‘Excuse me,’ I’d say knowing exactly what they wanted to know. ‘What race am I? My mother is black and my father is a Japanese American.’ ‘Oh,’ they say, walking away as if I’m from another planet.”
Starbucks is encouraging people to share their thoughts using the hashtag #racetogether.