My Thoughts on #RaceTogether

For those of you who don’t know, Starbucks has started a campaign, where baristas will write #RaceTogether on your cup in order to encourage proactive discussion about race. But is this actually going to work?

It’s a bold idea, to bring race into a very public place. And I definitely respect and like the idea of encouraging conversation on a topic as important race, because race is still an issue in our society. Baristas are figuratively (and literally) handing you the ability to start this discussion with your neighbor.

But what are the pit falls? Many see this as a publicity stunt in order for Starbucks to make more money (as is what companies like to do). Could be, but that is a very cynical point of view to have. Companies try to fill needs, and Starbucks is filling the need that this is a conversation that needs to be had.

The biggest problem I see is that baristas can’t actually start the conversation. Despite the fact that Starbucks boasts about the fact that they provide a space of warmth and belonging, many people just want to run in, get their grande caramel machiatto upside down and run out. Even if they do chose to stay, they usually plug themselves in to their devices and tune out the universe. The only way that this campaign will actually work is if customers are brave and start the conversation with their neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family. The cups act as a reminder, a spark even, but that spark will die out if that customer with the machiatto doesn’t start a discussion.

#RaceTogether is a great idea, and fits with the values of Starbucks, but baristas can’t do all of the work. We, as customers, have to be brave enough to talk about these kind of issues, and maybe we can change the world- one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.

What are your thoughts on #RaceTogether? Share in the comments!


8 Comments Add yours

  1. I also agree that it will be hard to start convos in general and about race? That seems like a slippery slope at 8am! I don’t usually stop at the bucks in the mornings though, it will be interesting to see how it plays out!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Most of the discussion from doing this will probably come from people hearing about the movement and posting opinions and such online, not necessarily from conversations sparked up at a Starbucks after someone reads the phrase on their cup. So I guess in that respect it’s worthwhile. It just seems a bit gimmicky to me. But that seems to be the way of things these days.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really great points on this subject. My concern is, also, that baristas have alot going on as it already is, & like you pointed out, most of us want our coffee & to be on our way. The only time I stay around is to get work done, & I usually am not there to chat, but, maybe its time I do. I do hope no one abuses this idea & turns it around to pick arguments, as some people aren’t too kind, thus, needing to bring this topic up!! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Natalie says:

    I remain unconvinced about this–the last thing I want to do when I’m in the mood for a frothy coffee drink is to sit down with a complete stranger and have an awkward conversation about something that is incredibly deep and difficult. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t talk about our constructs of race and identity–we absolutely should–but a Starbucks run doesn’t seem like the place to do it. Kudos to Starbucks to trying to do something positive, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. valerie says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Very interesting post…I like your blog a lot! I agree with Lindsay , I think this campaign will be a slippery slope, not sure what it will accomplish. Race is definitely still a touchy subject in society. Thanks for the thought to ponder! 🙂

    Best to you


  6. Dube says:

    GREAT post. I agree completely. I can’t imagine how tough it would be for a barista to start a compelling race conversation while a customer is “racing” to work!


  7. hirundine608 says:

    I like what I’m reading in the blog,etc. Not sure about the subject here. Bigotry has little place in society. Yet at the same time it may be seen how attitudes are inflamed.

    I seldom use this company, starbucks, for coffee. (Or any other, come to that.) I find watching people with that inevitable cup, glued in fist A little predictable. The issue cannot be solved “over coffee”, anyway.

    I’m none too sure I want to have this conversation with a comparative stranger. It looks to me like a publicity stunt, for a corporate entity?

    I would probably point out the cups thrown on sidewalk, etc. Not stuff scrawled on the cups – I wonder if the ink is foodsafe? Cheers Jamie.


  8. Hmm. I don’t think this will have the intended effect. Like someone mentioned earlier, starting a heavy discussion at 8 am might not be what ANYONE wants to do while on their morning coffee run. Sometimes for getting an incredibly message across, the avenue is just as important as the message itself!


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