The Pacific Index

Coffee chain sparks racially charged outcry

Hanin Najjar

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Starbucks is currently facing public outrage after two African American men were wrongfully arrested in one of company’s stores.

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson walked into a Starbucks in Philadelphia on April 12 and waited in the store for a third man to show up for their scheduled meeting. While waiting, Nelson and Robinson did not order anything from the menu. Eventually, Nelson asked a store employee to use the restroom and was told restrooms were for customers only. Soon after, the Starbucks store manager called the police and had the two men arrested for loitering and trespassing.

A video of the arrest later went viral on social media, sparking protests and a boycott Starbucks movement across the nation. The two men did not resist arrest and went peacefully with the officers, despite having done nothing wrong.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson publicly apologized after the event and announced the closing down of 8,000 Starbucks stores, scheduled for May 29, while the company conducts a nationwide racial bias education training.

Though Starbucks officials have already issued a public apology and said they would review their policies, they have yet to admit to the problem at hand.

Starbucks officials have refused to classify the incident involving Nelson and Robinson as a case of racial profiling and racial discrimination. Calling into question whether Starbucks is conducting its training in a true effort to prevent racial profiling in the future, or in an attempt to save face and stop people from boycotting their business.

If Nelson and Robinson had been white, they would not have been arrested in that Philadelphia Starbucks. There is a double standard when it comes to African American men in America today. 

The stereotype that black men are dangerous needs to be put to rest. In order for the relationship between law enforcement and the African American community to improve, racial profiling and racial discrimination by store employees needs to end.

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Coffee chain sparks racially charged outcry