Thursday, March 19, 2015

Will You Have Race Relations With Your Coffee?

I must admit...even though there is a huge Starbucks on the campus of the University I work at...I choose to buy my coffee from the Dunkin Donuts down the street from it that is the size of a shoebox...Reason?  I like their coffee better...That's all..

I have to commend the leadership of Starbucks though....For wanting their employees to discuss "race relations" with their customers while they serve them coffee..It's cute and real politically correct...but uh..Early in the morning when I've just woken up and am getting that first cup of coffee..I don't want to talk about race relations..and I'm a Black man...So I could understand...I could perfectly understand if a white person wouldn't want to discuss race either...I don't too much want to discuss anything..I just want my coffee.

And here is the thing about race relations in a nut shell..We...People all have more in common than not and if we could rally around what we have in common as opposed to the things that divide us...We could finally start to get past this thing called race that has divided us for so long.

But...

We won't....

Not tomorrow....Not the day after and talking about it over coffee in the morning is not going to begin us on that journey....

We are still uncomfortable when we talk about race as evidenced in the story I'm about to tell-

If you were watching...
Things got a little awkward on MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes" Tuesday night.Sorry Fox Viewers,

During a segment on Starbucks' new and controversial "Race Together" campaign, which seeks to have employees start open conversations about race with customers, guests Jay Smooth and "CBS Sunday Morning" contributor Nancy Giles illustrated for viewers just how uncomfortable such interactions can be.
Smooth -- who in addition to hosting a long-running hip-hop show on New York's WBAI radio station also video blogs about issues of race and culture for Fusion -- took the position that a campaign like "Race Together" fails to get at the true, systemic problems of white supremacy in America.

The conversation was largely substantive, but after host Chris Hayes rolled footage of Smooth's YouTube video “How to Tell Someone They Sound Racist," things started to go off the rails.

But of course....This being America and all..


"I can't not tease Jay about the kinda, like, brotha way he was trying to talk," Giles said. "Like, 'Hey,' with the rap music in the background, and, like, down with the people."

"I'm a rap guy!" Smooth responded, most likely seeing the train wreck coming from a mile away. But Giles continued to persist anyways.

"Yeah, I know, but it's another interesting, funny thing about race," she said. "Like, there would be some people that feel that you co-opted something like that, and other people might feel like that's his background and that's really cool, too." 

Giles continued to joke with Smooth about the way he spoke in the video, until finally things came to an inevitable and cringeworthy halt.

"It's also interesting because I'm actually black, but you assumed otherwise," Smooth said. "And this is the sort of awkwardness that we can look forward to at Starbucks across America."Yupper!

The exchange was good-natured throughout -- with Hayes laughing and clapping on the sidelines -- but painful to watch nonetheless.

It's going to be painful period for employees of Starbucks to be put on the spot like that...Tomorrow I'm going to get my coffee from Starbucks just to see how this goes...Stay tuned..

1 comment:

Arlene said...

Yo cousin, I don't want to talk about race either. Because there is no such thing!! What we have is a social construct designed by white people to structure themselves on top, in every area of interactions among living beings. They choose the level of melanin in skin to draw the line.

I'd love to talk to anyone about how that structure effects me and mine. Let's talk about how much advantage some have just because of the color of their skin or the texture of hair. Let's talk about underfunded school, poor quality housing, mass incarceration. Let's talk about that!! That's called racism!! I don't think Mr. Starbucks wants to hear how his grands used my grands!!

But let's talk anyway!




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