The Philly Starbucks story has reached global proportions. Even Reuters on my Apple TV had it on this morning. Now that’s big.
I got a little feedback from my piece ‘This Black Man is Still going to Starbucks‘ and I’ve read a few more articles and read a lot of comments. The overwhelming majority of them say that they’ve used a Starbucks bathroom without being stopped, and white people hangout in Starbucks all day without buying anything. The other big response is that ‘we’ should protest and boycott Starbucks.
My short response to a protest-boycott is if virtually all of you admit to never experienced anything close to what the Philly brothers went through, is Starbucks a big enough offender to warrant a protest? I don’t think there are enough black Starbuck customers to put a major dent in their operation unless the ‘we’ that should be protesting are people of all races. Even though a lot of whites see how disgusting the arrests were, please don’t expect many of them to join a protest.
I enjoyed reading Tonya Pendleton’s piece on Black America Web. She knows Philly and opened up with…
Rittenhouse Square remains a wealthy, white enclave. Just down the street, the patrons of Barclays Fine Dining or Parc and Rouge, pull up Maseratis and Bentleys to sit outside drinking fine wines and eating high-end foods on sunny days. Many are blissfully unaware of the problems Black men face in America, as those two demographics rarely interact with each other.
She knows the double standards black men face in public places…
It’s not that it’s a rarity in Philadelphia to see two casually dressed brothers having a business meeting, it’s that if a conflict arises and they are not obsequious and obedient, there’s a chance that someone will find them suspicious.
She talked to Starbucks employees and learned…
a purchase to use the bathroom has long been a requirement. It just has not been enforced.
We don’t ever expect to see a Starbucks in Chester but they are in a lot of big cities where people of diverse race and wealth intermingle. I used to live at 1823 Spruce, 1st floor rear, so I know the 18th and Spruce neighborhood rather well. In addition to the affluent residents who live there, there are a lot of homeless who hang out there. The Starbucks bathroom policy is selectively enforced store by store according to their location.
It’s a requirement meant to solve the persistent problem of homeless people and addicts who use public restrooms to wash and/or do drugs, an issue reflected in customer feedback to Starbucks.
The Starbucks employee couldn’t not have said it more plainly when he was quoted…
“The goal is to capture people that need to pay. The way that it’s coming off is by being enforced by humans who are prone to stereotyping. People would come in, plug in to the free wifi, bring their own lunch and we wouldn’t say one thing to them. These guys are there for 10 minutes and you’re asking them to leave?”
The common sense school of thought is…
Philly’s crime rate would suggest that spending time and energy on a loitering arrest, with multiple police offers dispatched to the scene, was something that would become at the very least, a PR nightmare. There is a horrific history of Black men being charged with loitering and other minor offenses that dates back to the Jim Crow era. Training and policy notwithstanding, this a situation where common sense should have prevailed.
But, people will be people.
There are still people, despite constant evidence to the contrary, who believe that Black people who do what white people do without a second thought every single day, must have done something to warrant the overreaction of white people.
…this is the very definition of racial profiling and a humiliating lesson in how it can impact Black men and women in the daily process of living their lives.
Sometimes it feels good to know there’s at least one other black person in the world that shares my view…
I don’t personally support a boycott, if only because at this point, we’d be down to nothing if we boycotted every microaggression, every biased company and situation.
What we’d like to see more often, is what has happened here – that people of all backgrounds step up when they see an injustice and encourage others to do so as well.