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!