The Starbucks Incident is Another Example of Being Black in America

Racism is part of the fabric of country. It shows up in everyday life and every day activities. Racism is not limited to Klan marches or internet chat rooms. As James Baldwin once said, “to be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.”

The Starbucks Incident is Another Example of Being Black in America

This is another reminder of what it's like to be black in America. Time and again, we see black people unable to ask for directions; hold skittles or cell phones; drive; or peacefully protest.

In Philadelphia recently, Starbucks employees called the police to remove two black men who were sitting at a table while waiting for a friend to arrive. The men were handcuffed, fingerprinted, and photographed before eventually being released eight hours later. The Starbucks CEO has since apologized for the “reprehensible” incident, which Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said "appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018."

This is another reminder of what it's like to be black in America.  Time and again, we see black people unable to ask for directions;  hold skittles or cell phonesdrive; or peacefully protest.  Today, we see black people can’t even sit in a Starbucks and wait for a friend.   Racism is part of the fabric of country.  It shows up in everyday life and every day activities.  Racism is not limited to Klan marches or internet chat rooms.  As James Baldwin once said, “to be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.”   

Recommendations:

  • Corporations should have implicit training for their employees.
  • Corporations should provide clear guidelines for when to contact the police.
  • Law enforcement officers should receive de-escalation training on a regular basis.

Key Statistics:

Studies have found that:

  • People perceive African-American males as more physically dangerous than white males, even when they are the same height and weight.
  • People tend to overestimate black boys’ age, viewing them as older and less innocent than their white peers.
  • Black students are 2.2 times more likely to be expelled or suspended than other students. The pattern of implicit bias in disciplinary actions begins as early as preschool. During the 2013-14 school year, African-American children made up 19% of preschoolenrollment, but accounted for 47% of the preschoolers who received suspensions or expulsions.
  • African Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be arrested, compared to their white counterparts.  When interacting with law enforcement, young black males are 21 times more likely than their white peers to be shot by an officer.

Other Examples:  

  • In 2018, a 14-year-old black student missed the school bus.  He started to walk to school but got lost. He stopped at a house looking for directions only to be shot at.  
  • In 2018, an African American school board candidate was stopped by police twice while canvassing for his own campaign.
  • In 2018, Sacramento Police fatally shot Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard. What police thought was a gun turned out to be a cell phone.
  • In 2017, Donald Trump called on the NFL to fire African American players for kneeling in silent protest of racial injustice during the national anthem.
  • In 2015, Sandra Bland was pulled over for failing to use her turn signal, arrested, and later found dead in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas.
  • In 2014, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by a police officer, who didn’t even stop his vehicle before shooting, while playing outside with a toy gun.
  • In 2012, Trayvon Martin was returning home from 7-11 with a bag of skittles in his pocket, when George Zimmerman confronted him for being “a suspicious person” then fatally shot him in what he later claimed was self-defense.