The Starbucks Arrest is Yet Another Reminder Why we as Americans Still “Have Work to do”

The recent arrests that occurred at a Starbucks located in Philadelphia carry issues that are incredibly relevant in our society and culture.

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As a former shift supervisor at the Starbucks on Hoosick Street, I was not surprised when news broke of the arrest of two African-American males inside the store.

If anything, I was disheartened by the cognitive dissonance shown by the employees and management at that Starbucks and greatly concerned that white people really aren’t getting that the dynamic between African-Americans and Law Enforcement carries a heavier weight for us as an ethnic group.

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During my time as a barista and shift supervisor, there were plenty of occasions where patrons would enter for the sole purpose of using the bathroom and not buying a beverage. It didn’t matter what their gender or ethnicity was, we allowed them access to this privilege as staff.

Sometimes this was exploited by people who used it to roll up a dutch or do a bump.. I remember closing the store on certain shifts having to clean up dutch guts, dime bags, and needles from the restrooms. This is life though, and personally, I didn’t mind that we had that policy at the store.

Ironically, empathy and humanity were completely missing during this arrest. Why does a patron who wanted to use the bathroom, but hadn’t paid for a beverage, warrant enough of a threat call Law Enforcement? What did the barista see that was such a severe threat? It’s bad enough that a Cold Brew costs an arm and a leg, so why would I now risk my well being trying to get one if this is what the reaction is for being an African-American at a Starbucks?

For a company that put so much emphasis on the consumer versus the employee during my time there, it’s as hypocritical as it gets from Starbucks, and CEO Kevin Johnson knows it. He’s reached out to the two gentlemen that were arrested to meet with him, called the situation “reprehensible”, and pleaded that “Unconscious Bias” training is implemented for Store Managers.

The Store Manager at my store location was one of the most objective humans I have come across in the service industry. She never showed bias, and always was proactive if there was tension and drama between coworkers. Most importantly, she didn’t care about the color of your skin or where you were from, but rather, who you are as a human and how you could add to Starbucks in a positive way by being who you are.

If you need that training as a Store Manager, you shouldn’t be a fucking store manager if you can’t manage your own bias or prejudice. 

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney addressed the arrests in a statement yesterday as bluntly as he could. “This is not just a Starbucks issue. This is a societal issue. People can react differently to others based on skin color, and that is wrong. We have work to do, and we need to do so productively.”

The amount of times I’ve heard someone say ‘we have work to do’ involving a situation like this is sickening.

Did we not learn from Tamir Rice? Trayvon Martin? Obviously it’s going in one ear and out the other, and the sad part is that only one ethnic group is struggling to empathize what this feels like.

Have you ever been pulled over by police for being black while driving through Arbor Hill and hearing them call for backup because you “forgot to signal your turn”? Have you been asked by a cop to step out the vehicle and take the DWI test on the side of the Northway because your headlight went out? Nah, you probably haven’t, but I remember these incidents vividly.

To quote Wiz Khalifa, face your fears. Look in the mirror and at yourself, why you have these notions and judgements towards us, and stop running to Law Enforcement in a hysterical state for something that isn’t even worth panicking over.

These two gentlemen were properly dressed, god forbid if they were in a hoodie and sweats. That’s what hurts me. This could have been worse than what it already is.

African-Americans are not the stereotypes society has force fed you through your ears. We are humans. Everyone here is, so cut the bullshit and actually start putting in the work you need to do. Because I can speak for my kinfolk when I say that these incidents are reruns of a show that you desperately want to turn off, but can’t….



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