In fact, more than 8,000 Starbucks-owned retail stores around the country will be closed on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 29. Staff will go through a training program designed to “address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome,” the company said.
The move follows the April 12 arrest of two black customers who were waiting for a friend to arrive at a Philadelphia Starbucks. The men asked for the code needed to use the bathroom, and were told it was only available for paying customers. A store manager then called the police, and the duo were arrested for trespassing, although no charges were filed.
Starbucks has since apologized.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” said Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the incident “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.” He added that the apology from Starbucks “is not enough,” and that he would ask the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to look into the incident.
The curriculum for the May 29 training session will be developed with guidance from several national and local experts confronting racial bias, Starbucks said in a statement.