Following the undeniably racist incident of two black men getting arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks for no legitimate reason, 8,000 Starbucks locations will close on Tuesday, May 29th for an employee racial bias training. And while it was a white Starbucks employee who called 911 to falsely accusing two men of trespassing, several non-white Starbucks employees are using this moment to share their stories of discrimination at the hands of customers. According to Fortune.com, 40% of Starbucks employees are non-white, and many can recall instances of discrimination.
Starbucks employee Angela De La Torre, 21, told BusinessInsider.com that she has witnessed customers use the n-word to refer to black baristas, and added, “I have been asked not to make someone’s drink while they spoke to me in mock-Spanish, asking me to have my white coworker make the drink instead,” De La Torre recalled. She’s also encountered comments like “please speak English” and seen Latino coworkers get told to “go back to Mexico.”
Another non-white employee noted that there have been times when white customers have refused to place money directly in her hand, and also said she had a white manager who she believed unfairly watched and scrutinized her work.
Basically, this is an issue that runs much deeper than mere company policy.
While it’s disheartening to hear about so many acts of discrimination taking place, it’s also a critical reminder that acts of racism are happening all around us, every single day, and many have the luxury of not even noticing.
We hope the incidents of the last few weeks further shine a light on these issues and get people — especially people with privilege — thinking.