After facing backlash, Starbucks says employees can now wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ gear to work
Today, Starbucks announced the chain will now allow workers to wear attire and accessories associated with the Black Lives Matter movement while working. This comes after the company’s previous stance — where baristas and employees were not allowed to show support to the movement while working — received major backlash and calls for boycotts.
Starbucks initially feared that an employee sporting a BLM message might “incite violence from those who don’t understand it,” according to an internal memo (obtained by BuzzFeed News) to employees that “there are agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles of the Black lives Matter movement — and in certain circumstances, intentionally re-purpose them to amplify divisiveness.”
The company posted an update on its stance on its Instagram page. “In response to this historic time, our store partners can show support with their own t-shirts, pins and name tags.”
Starbucks had previously shown support of Black lives on social media channels. Considering they publicly stated they were “committed to taking action, learning, and supporting our Black partners, customers and communities,” forbidding employees to support the largest civil rights movement in history isn’t exactly a good look.
Earlier this month, as protesters filled the streets of U.S. cities and small towns to call for justice in the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans at the hands of police, Starbucks pledged $1 million to organizations that promote “racial equity and more inclusive and just communities.
Additionally, Starbucks allows employees to show support for Pride Month and LGBTQ rights, which makes it all the more unjust that the company wouldn’t allow employees to do the same for racial inequality.
This isn’t the first bout of racial insensitivity that Starbucks has played a role in. Back in 2018 in a Philadelphia Starbucks, two police officers arrested two Black men for sitting down inside the restaurant without ordering anything.
According to reports, the store’s manager called 911 after the men asked for the code to use the restroom. They were told the restroom was only for paying customers, and they returned to their table, where they were waiting to meet a business associate, who arrived as they were being handcuffed. Starbucks chains across the U.S. were closed down for a day for racial bias training after the incident.
In a total 180 from literally just yesterday, Starbucks now says it will will make 250,000 shirts with a design that includes “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace” available to workers in its company-owned cafes in the United States and Canada. The company tells CNBC that it began planning to provide shirts for employees last week.
Until the shirts arrive, employees can wear pins or shirts to show support.