By Thursday afternoon, #BoycottStarbucks was trending once again after news hit that they wouldn’t let their employees wear #BlackLivesMatter gear.
Folks are now questioning the coffee company’s motives, considering they said they’d take action in “supporting our Black partners, customers and communities” in a June 4 statement following a week of protest over George Floyd‘s death. Their pinned tweet clearly reads “Black lives matter. We are committed to being apart of the change.” The company vowed $1 million to “organizations promoting racial equity and more inclusive and just communities” saying organizations will be nominated by Starbucks “partners (employees).” The company also said they are “actively hosting open and necessary conversations with our partners (employees) about racism the Black community faces. Our work does not end here.”
However, according to BuzzFeed News, the company sent out a memo to employees last week explicitly saying that Black Lives Matter attire was prohibited from the list of things employees can wear due to the company’s dress code policy. This means no T-shirts, no pins nor any other accessory that mentions Black Lives Matter.
The ban is referencing a dress code policy that prohibits any type of religious, political, or personal accessories or clothing. However, many employees pointed out to BuzzFeed News that the coffee company allows buttons and attire celebrating LGBTQ rights and marriage equality. Employees say they even go a step further and pass out the gear.
Calvin Bensen, a 22-year-old barista from Atlanta, said the company’s response was “disappointing in ways I can’t express in words. That statement prioritizes those who feel discomfort over Black lives.” He described their move as “violent.”
“We respect all of our partners’ opinions and beliefs, and encourage them to bring their whole selves to work while adhering to our dress code policy,” said the spokesperson.
Many employees felt the contradictions in such a statemnet, saying Starbuck’s actions now feel “performative,” “shallow,” and “hypocritical.” One barista told BuzzFeed News that they’re only trying to preserve their image as to not disrupt sales.
Benson, who is Black and transgender, pointed out Starbuck’s support for LGBTQ issues despite risks that it could divide people. The company has launched initiatives over the years to help achieve LGBTQ workplace equality and to assist LGBTQ employees with healthcare. The company even marched in Pride parades around the world.
“Starbucks LGBTQ+ partners wear LGBTQ+ pins and shirts, that also could incite and create violent experiences amongst partners and customers,” Benson explained, adding that workers were able to wear LGBTQ+ pins and shirts without purchasing them directly from Starbucks. “We have partners who experienced harassment and transphobia/homophobia for wearing their pins and shirts, and Starbucks still stands behind them.”
It should be noted that Starbucks’ non-support for Black Lives Matter gear comes after they launched anti-biased initiatives around the country following a 2018 racial profiling incident in a Philadelphia store that went viral.
It’s clear the company still has a lot of work to do in understanding bias.
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‘Boycott Starbucks’ Trends Once Again After Company Bans ‘Black Lives Matter’ Gear was originally published on newsone.com