What we witnessed in the Starbucks situation was White Supremacy plain and simple. It affected most, if not all, Descendants of Africans Enslaved in the United States (DAEUS). It was racism – not racial bias. This was not an isolated incident in Philadelphia, it is a resurgence of this national practice in the time of “Trump!” As quiet as it is kept, the management of Starbucks and many other corporations doing business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, is linked to the long traumatic history of chattel slavery in the United States.
Yes, today is a new time and age, and we as Descendants of Africans Enslaved in the United States (DAEUS) declare an end to the natal alienation wrought by the worldwide system of White Supremacy. Racial justice, not only general social justice, is needed and can be defined as policies and practices which produce opportunities, outcomes and conditions that ensure Black people receive their due in equal treatment, and shared social goods and that reflect a clear and equal commitment of society to their well-being and flourishing. These opportunities and conditions are not satisfied with broad social policies which promise and promote diversity as a piece of social propaganda rather than real commitment to shared wealth, power and status. Indeed, diversity is not racial justice, but a requirement of justice as a demand for the equitable and effective presence of racial groups in every area of critical social space.
The Starbucks Corporation cannot cover up their ineffective employment practices with the patina of respectability by offering a minor professional development training for a major human resources deficit. The fact that the Starbucks Corporation hiring process resulted in employing the manager at the Starbucks location in Philadelphia at issue raises the question and concern that other management and line staff with similar views, attitudes and beliefs are in stores across the nation. A one-day training won’t fix that problem.
There is another viral video, shot at a Starbucks in Los Angeles, California, which shows racial bias toward a Black customer. A young man of African descent, was refused the use of the bathroom right after a White customer was allowed to use the bathroom simply by just walking in and asking for the code to the bathroom. California according to the Southern Poverty Law Center has 75 hate groups in the state. more than half, 38, are in the southern part of the Golden State–19 hate organizations are based in or near Los Angeles.
Local government’s legal action through its police against Black people for doing nothing more than what White people do daily in the engagement of commerce is a crime. To engage in racially separate and discriminatory behavior with African Descendants engaged in commerce, or just daily living for that matter, consciously or unconsciously, with calls for the police, is nothing but the continuing crime against our humanity as a people.
Further, the city of Philadelphia promised the two young men arrested in the Philadelphia Starbucks incident that it would “fund youth and entrepreneurship programs” to the tune of $200,000. That promise just glamorizes corporate behavior and attempts to lower the seriousness of the crime.
Reasonable people cannot deny that the two men in Starbucks were targeted because of their race. This behavior still remains the norm for Blacks in the United States. This was a crime against the Black race. In this context, Whites, contemporarily speaking, hold us in a perpetual condition of dishonor like their enslaving ancestors did. Moreover, as a group, they seek and gain honor in degrading us. This is the current social contract—we are permanent strangers—this is the social context, and we are striving to renegotiate this social contract.
The proposed solution of racial bias training for Starbucks employees is reactionary behavior. Starbucks, like other major corporations, must face the reality that Peoplehood trumps “Corporate-hood.” The deep problems the country has today are rooted in the unjust enrichment of its legacy of chattel slavery. Unless, and until, the U.S. Congress, religious organizations, higher education, and corporations come to grips with the reality that the price of reconciliation for ongoing acts of White Supremacy is the repair of the injury to the affected people. This means that both the perpetuator of the crime and the victim must be at the same table and negotiate the repair of the injured people under reciprocal zero-sum collaborative agreements.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson and his community relations team, inclusive of the CEO & COO who travelled to Philly to put out this fire, are to be praised as they have been. Yet it’s not enough. Unilateral solutions won’t work. Racial bias training for its employees won’t solve the race problem unless, and until, a collaborative, inclusive of not only, elected officials and police, but also local and national representatives of N’COBRA–the long-standing and premier reparations organization – is developed to determine the best way forward.
Today, we see Black men, women and children in America being treated differently or separately from other people in this country – citizen or not, and racism is backed by the state – it is chattel slavery– again – plain and simple.
The minute the manager of Starbucks called the police to enforce her racial bias, Starbucks engaged in an act – no, a crime – of racism. It is the social structure, system and practice of racial separation and discrimination backed by the force of the police and the state. Yes, Starbuck’s chairman made a face-to-face apology to the two Black men. For the Black people who they are a part of, there was nothing but an expression of profound regret, which is unacceptable.
N’COBRA’s Executive Committee is meeting regularly to discuss other means by which Starbucks must repair its breach. This repair must be consistent with international norms for repair: cessation and guarantees of non-repetition, restitution, compensation, satisfaction, and reparations. These crimes call for immediate redress through discussion and agreement with Reparationists to arrive at a race-based accord and remedy to repair the damage done by Starbucks. For the record here are just three forms of political and social reparations we intend to negotiate with Starbucks:
- Reparations 101 training for Starbucks officers and key executives.
- Starbucks’ drafting an official statement to Congress supporting the HR 40 Bill to establish a Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 1, 2017. This bill establishes the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans to examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.
- Marketing “Sweet Unity Farms’ Coffee in all of its 8,000 stores. The mission of Sweet Unity Farms is to enhance the economic position and quality of life for rural coffee farmers and their communities through direct trade partnerships with coffee roasters and marketing companies. The driving concept behind Sweet Unity Farms is to turn the coffee industry into a vehicle that improves the lives of coffee farming families who nurtures the land, till the soil and harvest the crops.
The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA ) is the premiere mass-based coalition of organizations and individuals organized for the sole purpose of obtaining reparations for African descendants in the United States — www.ncobraonline.org