Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz called more than 1,500 Seattle-based employees together for a forum titled “Hate has no home here” in an effort to address the violence and hatred associated with white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
Schultz brought a small triangular-shaped rock from the Auschwitz concentration camp to the event on Tuesday, August 15. The coffee company executive, who brought the relic back from the German site 17 years ago, passed it around the room as a reminder of “unchecked hate.” Five-hundred Starbucks employees, referred to by the company as “partners,” filled the room, with more than 1,000 others in overflow areas of the Starbucks Support Center in Seattle.
“I come to you as an American, as a Jew, as a parent, as a grandparent, as an almost 40-year partner of this company,” Schultz told the employees. “I come to you with profound, profound concern about the lack of character, morality, humanity, and what this might mean for young children and young generations that are growing up at a time in which we are imprinting them with levels of behaviors and conduct that are beneath the United States of America.”
As recent Starbucks hire Amit Bhatia held the rock, he began to shake. “That rock represented the blood of millions who fell victim to something very similar to what we are facing now,” he told the Starbucks Newsroom, the company’s blog.
The rock circulated the room for 90 minutes as Schultz and other Starbucks employees shared their thoughts and concerns.
Bhatia moved to the United States 15 years ago from his native India. He says that he and his wife are having a hard time explaining to their 13-year-old daughter, Ayla, why they chose to live in this country, adding, “But just the fact that we are having this discussion here gives me hope.” Click here for more of the most inspiring food stories of 2017.