UPDATE 6/12/20 at 12:30PM: After receiving backlash, Starbucks reversed its statement and is now allowing baristas to wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts or pins until the company gives employees their new Black Lives Matter tee.
According to CNN, Starbucks’ new statements says it’s “critical to support the Black Lives Matter movement as its founders intended and will continue to work closely with community leaders, civil rights leaders, organizations, and our partners to understand the role that Starbucks can play, and to show up in a positive way for our communities.”
In the words of author, activist and TV show host Marc Lamont Hill, “Don’t pay attention to what these companies say. Watch what they do.”
Starbucks is under fire after an internal memo telling employees not to wear Black Lives Matter attire leaked.
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The memo, which was released to BuzzFeed News, pointed out how sporting messages like “Black Lives Matter” went against the company policy that prohibits attire that “advocates a political, religious or personal issue.” It comes as a concern not only because of the unrest that is currently reshaping the country and policy, but because Starbucks has encouraged employees to wear pins in support of LGBTQ equality in the past.
“Starbucks LGBTQ+ partners wear LGBTQ+ pins and shirts, that also could incite and create violent experiences amongst partners and customers,” a black transgender barista at Starbucks told BuzzFeed. “We have partners who experienced harassment and transphobia/homophobia for wearing their pins and shirts, and Starbucks still stands behind them.”
Their reasoning? The coffee shop executives were worried that showing support for Black Lives Matter, specifically, would attract agitators and “amplify divisiveness.”
“[It’s] disappointing in ways I can’t express in words. That statement prioritizes those who feel discomfort over Black lives,” another Black barista told BuzzFeed. “My skin color incites violence at Starbucks. Should I not come to work? It is silencing and Starbucks is complicit. Now more than ever, Starbucks needs to stand with us.”
A spokesperson for Starbucks confirmed the validity of the memo saying, “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.”
The coffee culture, however, ain’t buying it and have even been passing around names of Black-owned coffee shops to try instead…