Starbucks wants its baristas to talk about race with already anxious customers

If you’re like most people there’s nothing you want more when groggily picking up your morning cup of coffee than a lively discussion about the state of race relations in America.

At least that’s what Starbucks is hoping as it introduces a new initiative that urges baristas to begin conversations about race with customers, breaking the ice by handing them cups with the name of the campaign, “Race Together,”  handwritten on them.

Starbucks explained their new initiative thusly, all while casting Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in a rather heroic light:

It began with one voice

As racially-charged tragedies unfolded in communities across the country, the chairman and ceo of Starbucks didn’t remain a silent bystander. Howard Schultz voiced his concerns with partners (employees) in the company’s Seattle headquarters and started a discussion about race in America.

Despite raw emotion around racial unrest from Ferguson, Missouri to New York City to Oakland, “we at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America,” 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.”

Well that’s admirable, but it begs the question: How this will work in practice? If you’ve ever been in a Starbucks, you know it typically contains a long line of anxious, somewhat agitated people just itching to mainline some caffeine as quickly as possible before they rush to their work cubes.

Kudos to Starbucks for encouraging conversation. Let’s just hope they spell “racism” correctly.