March 23, 2015

Source: Shutterstock

I”€™m not the first to say this”€”and I hope I won”€™t be the last, because this idea needs to be power-drilled into the hundreds of millions of thick heads that span this once-fine nation”€”but people who insist we have an “€œhonest conversation”€ about race NEVER want to engage in anything remotely resembling an open dialogue about race. Rather, they seek to lecture, to shame, to flagellate your soul with guilt. For them, all racial disparities are cozily explained away by this intangible and unquantifiable thing known as “€œunfairness,”€ and if you seek to explore any other possible explanation, they”€™ll likely throw a scalding cup of coffee in your face. Black, of course. No cream, no sugar.

Mercifully, people across the political spectrum were   merciless on social media regarding Starbucks”€™ Ku Klux Koffee Klatsch Kluelessness. After facing an online barrage that he dubbed a “€œcascade of negativity,”€ one of the company’s PR executives temporarily disabled his Twitter account. On Sunday, Starbucks dismantled the entire program where baristas scribbled “€œRaceTogether”€ on coffee cups before initiating altercations with customers about the word “€œnigger.”€

During the initial torrent of criticism, it was pointed out that despite all the pious upscale yik-yak about police brutality and MLK, there are no Starbucks franchises in Ferguson, MO and Selma, AL. Nor does Starbucks”€™ management seem to realize that their own brand is a living cliché for everything rich and white rather than poor and black.

When will the twain meet? Here’s an idea. I”€™ve concocted a novel way that we”€”and by “€œwe”€ I mean everyone except maybe Armenians and the occasional Kurd”€”could spur a serious “€œdiscussion”€ about race without having to say a word. I think we should petition Starbucks to open stores in both Ferguson and Selma. And they should commission photographers to snap a picture of each franchise from the same angle once a day…for five years. And then they should compile a time-lapse video of what happens to a tony white coffee chain when it opens its doors in a downscale black neighborhood. It might prove to be a highly illuminating experience”€”one where the scales fall from every eye and the espressos from every hand.


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