Cerabino: Let me venti about racial sensitivity training at Starbucks

News item: The coffee-shop chain Starbucks will close more than 8,000 of its company-owned stores for one afternoon next month to conduct racial sensitivity training. The move comes after two black men waiting in a Philadelphia Starbucks to meet another man were denied the use of the store’s restroom because they hadn’t bought anything and then were arrested for trespassing after an employee summoned the police.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the reason (the police) were called was because they were African-American,” said Starbucks’ executive director, Howard Schultz. “I’m embarrassed by that. I’m ashamed of that. That’s not who Starbucks is. That’s not who we’ve been, and that’s not who we’re going to be.”

The “racial-bias education” training will be held at the Starbucks stores on May 29. 


May 30, 2018

Dear Starbucks customers:

Yesterday afternoon we held some terrific training at thousands of our stores. And we want you to know some of the changes that will be taking place, changes that we hope will make Starbucks a more tolerant and inclusive place to treat your caffeine addiction.

From now on, if any customer walks in one of our stores and asks to use our restrooms without purchasing anything, our baristas will tell them “No” regardless of their race, and then explain that we operate a business, not a public restroom.

And that if they need a public restroom, they should try the nearest Barnes & Noble bookstore.

Will we do this to white people too? That’s the plan. Fingers crossed.

But we’re not heartless. In order to help those special customers of all races who have explosive bladders and clearly won’t make it to the Barnes & Noble, we are offering them a budget-friendly purchase option of a new item aimed specifically at our pit-stop clientele.

Just say “bathroom biscotti” and relief will be moments away.

You’ll be expedited through the line and our baristas won’t be required to ask you for your name and then write down something else on your bag. To further streamline the ordering process, the cookie will just come in one size, so you won’t have to learn Italian to figure out the difference between large and small.

And we promise, you won’t be asked if you’d like a try a hazelnut mocha coconut-milk macchiato with that.

You’ll quickly get your cookie, and once you pay the reasonable price of $5.99 through our new Whiz-On-The-Go app, bladder relief will be just moments away.

You’ll also be happy to discover that after 10 purchases of a bathroom biscotti you get one free Joni Mitchell CD. (She’s the blackest artist we sell.)

In other news, we will be installing interactive locks on our bathroom doors that require a two-step process for entry.

Paying customers who need to use a store restroom will be given a secret code. They can then enter this on the keypad below a small video screen that will be installed on each restroom door.

Once the correct password is entered, the next step is a one-question racial sensitivity quiz that will pop up on the door’s video screen.

Press the right multiple-choice answer and you’re in. Get it wrong, and you get another question until you get one correct.

Yes, we’ve decided that not only should our employees be more sensitive to racial bias, but so should our customers. The way we look at it, we’re helping America to be better educated one bladder at a time.

Here is a sampling of some of the questions you might see on one of our bathroom doors.

1. Most Americans on food stamps are …

(a) black

(b) white


2. What became known as the government handout “Obama phone” was started by …

(a) President Barack Obama

(b) President Ronald Reagan


3. Undocumented immigrants from Central America commit crimes at a higher rate than American citizens.

(a) True

(b) False


4. A ProPublica study found that black teens are more likely to be shot by police over their white counterparts by this factor:

(a) twice as likely

(b) 21 times as likely


The answer to all these questions is (b).

It’s something to think about when you’re nibbling on your bathroom biscotti.

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