Starbucks to Close 8,000 Stores for Racial Bias Training


By Michaela Anderson, Co Editor-in-Chief

Starbucks is closing more than 8,000 U.S. stores for one afternoon to educate employees on racial bias. This is the response to criticism after two black men were arrested while waiting at a Philadelphia store last week.

Nearly 175,000 employees will be attending the training, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

All Starbucks company-owned retail stores and corporate offices will be closed Tuesday, May 29. Employees 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.

“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,” chief executive Kevin Johnson said in the statement.

The controversy started when the two men were denied use of a restroom because they didn’t order food or drinks. When they refused to leave, the store manager called the police despite their explanation that they were waiting for a friend. The video shows the friend arriving as police led the pair away in handcuffs.

The arrest sparked outrage among many people. The Starbucks in question had closed temporarily because of demonstrations inside and outside but reopened Tuesday morning. There was little to no commotion and no protesters stood outside.

The day prior, demonstrators had gathered at the location. One person in the crowd held up a sign that read, “Is she fired or nah?” – referencing the store manager. Other signs read many different statements such as “Too Little Too Latte” or “Coffee is Black!” Other protesters chanted, “Anti-blackness anywhere is anti-blackness everywhere!”

The Philadelphia Police released the 911 call Tuesday. At 4:37 p.m., the store manager called the police to report the incident.

“I have two gentlemen in my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave. I am at the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce.”

Starbucks didn’t press trespassing charges. The pair were then later released.