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Jason Rantz


Call to boycott Starbucks is simply irrational

(File, Associated Press)

By now you’ve seen the video of two black men being arrested for trespassing at a Philadelphia Starbucks. The charge was ridiculous and was later dropped.

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The CEO of Starbucks has apologized and aims to apologize face to face.

This was, undoubtedly, an isolated incident. It’s too bad that activists are pretending this happens all the time.

Activists are calling for a boycott of Starbucks. In the process, they are hurting diverse low-wage workers. These activists are only partially interested in tackling racism. They also hate capitalism and are exploiting this issue to go after a big corporation they loathe. It’s a shame.

“We don’t want this Starbucks to make any money today. That’s our goal,” said Abdul-Aliy Muhammad, one of the protest’s organizers and co-founder of the Black and Brown Workers Collective. This organization is a radical one: “Our mission is to actively challenge, resist and dismantle, those colonialist, white supremacist and oppressive systems that impact our lives as Black and Brown workers.”

Racism no doubt exists. So does racial profiling. But one non-violent incident at Starbucks doesn’t mean that the liberal company has a racism problem. Indeed, the reason why you’re aware of this story in Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Olympia and all of Western Washington is precisely because it doesn’t happen often.

One barista makes an error in judgment — perhaps due to racism, perhaps due to sheer stupidity, perhaps both — and we’ll pretend the entire company is to blame? That is, of course, irrational and unreasonable. Who judges an entire company by one lowly employee?

The reaction we see here is being fueled by activists who think this happens every day — they know it in their hearts, but they can’t actually show evidence that it does. So, when given a story that can make their point, they jump on it to an absurd degree and pretend this is the reality of being black at Starbucks. On Twitter, I saw a meme about it now being illegal to be black at Starbucks. That is preposterous and I’m not sure what purpose that serves.

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If you believe racism is pervasive in 2018 and that there’s been no progress made, you shouldn’t have to pretend what happened at Starbucks happens there all the time. You should be able to point to a whole host of stories where this has happened. Can anyone show me the myriad cases of this happening here in Seattle?

What happened in Philadelphia was unequivocally wrong. I was nearly kicked out of a coffee shop once under similar circumstances, though police weren’t called. Was the Philly case due to racism? Possibly. I don’t know who the person who made the call was, but it sure seems like this was due to race.

But to pretend this one incident is somehow indicative of a prevalent problem, sans any actual evidence, leads me to believe this isn’t about Starbucks at all. It’s about using them to make a bigger point. And however worthy that bigger point may be, it’s wrong to use Starbucks to push your agenda unless you actually have evidence this company is as nefarious as you claim.

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