Starbucks Baristas Encouraged to Talk Race With Customers

In addition to writing names and marking the number of special syrups and additions to customers’ cups, some Starbucks baristas might begin scribbling the words “race together” on customers’ beverages in an effort to spark conversations, the coffee chain announced.

The company announced that they were encouraging baristas to write the phrase on cups following a series of company forums held in the wake of the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and other unarmed black men.

“We at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America," Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said. "Not to point fingers or to place blame, and not because we have answers, but because staying silent is not who we are."

Starbucks brewed up the campaign after several open forums the company held about race, including one in New York.

Baristas who attended the forum said they wanted to do something to start conversations, so they began writing “race together” on cups. Starbucks franchises across the nation began using stickers with the phrase on Monday.

The company said it will also run full-page ads in newspapers promoting the campaign and will begin distributing a special newspaper section on race in conjunction with USA Today on Friday.

The campaign already sparked backlash on social media, and Business Insider reported the company's vice president of communications, Corey duBrowa, deleted his Twitter account because of attacks from critics.

It’s not the first time the popular coffee chain has waded into social issues.

In 2013, the company asked baristas to write “come together” on cups to encourage political cooperation amid deadlock on Capitol Hill over government appropriations. Starbucks has also asked that patrons not bring guns into its locations.

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