Starbucks tries to have conversation about race, doesn't go very well

This week Starbucks announced a major new initiative named Race Together with a full-page advert in the New York Times.

Following a consultation with 2,000 employees over several months, the coffee chain is urging workers to engage with customers about arguably the most contentious issue in the US at the moment, race relations.

  • Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

But the fact they will do so via writing "Race Together" on customers' coffee cups and starting a discussion about race has left some people cold.

After the new campaign was launched by CEO Howard Schultz - who has previously led drives to increase gun control and fuel job creation - the company's vice president of communications, Corey duBrowa, quit Twitter after being inundated with negative messages.

After reinstating his account, he wrote that he "felt personally attacked in a cascade of negativity. I got overwhelmed by the volume and tenor of the discussion, and I reacted".

In a video message launching #RaceTogether, Schultz said the campaign would not be a solution to problems involving race in the US, but "it is an opportunity to begin to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society – one conversation at a time".

As has been pointed out, however, the company could have put more thought into its promotional images, all of which feature white hands.

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