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Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) Brews Talk of Racism

Written By Jeff Siegel

Posted March 17, 2015

sbuxraceI’ve long been bullish on Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX).

Even back in the day when analysts criticized the company for opening a new store on every corner, and even while the coffee peddler continues to be the subject of jokes about vapid millennials and overpriced lattes, I remain convinced that Starbucks is a force, and will continue to be a force for the foreseeable future.

That being said, I do believe the company’s latest campaign is horribly misguided.

Dubbed the “Race Together” campaign, Starbucks is encouraging customers to strike up a conversation about race with the company’s baristas.

What a horrible idea!

While I appreciate CEO Howard Schultz’s attempt to foster the conversation about race, I don’t think this is the way to go about it. Because the problem is, most people in this country don’t want to face the inconvenient truth that racism cannot be extinguished with good intentions and what is often dishonest conversation.

In a Post-Racial World

There seems to be this idea that if we talk about race and we’re honest with each other, we can live in a post-racial world. But this will never happen, because most folks are incapable of being honest.

Racism doesn’t exist because we don’t talk about it. But racism does flourish because few are willing to talk about it honestly. And if you talk about it honestly, it’s going to be offensive to a lot of folks.

To give you an example of what I’m talking about, consider the “N word.”

Why do we insist upon saying the “N word,” instead of just saying nigger?

It’s not as if a racist person is going to call a black man an “N word.” No, he’s going to call him a nigger.

If a reporter goes on the air and tells a story of a racist police officer calling a black man an “N word,” does that make it any less offensive? Of course not. In fact, this kind of censorship really only gives that word more power.

Although I don’t typically subscribe to the nonsensical fight about liberal media vs. conservative media (as all mainstream media serves as little more than a propaganda machine), I would argue that much of this “N word” stuff is the result of left-leaning political correctness that breeds in the petri dishes of what many refer to as liberal media.

There’s actually a fantastic interview with Samuel L. Jackson where a reporter talks about the “N word.” Jackson asks him to say the word, but the interview is unable to say it. He’s afraid to. He’s been conditioned to believe that if he says it, it will somehow make him a racist.

Here’s the clip if you’d like to see it …


It’s also hard for a lot of folks to be honest because if we did engage in an honest conversation, we’d quickly realize how clueless we are about other races.

You can’t expect a white man to know what it’s like to be a black man. You can’t expect an Asian woman to know what it’s like to be a Latina. We all come from different backgrounds and all experience life differently.

Indeed, some races fare better than others in daily life.

As a white man, I’ve never been racially profiled. I’ve never been in Arizona and been asked by a sheriff to see my papers. I’ve never been accused of sending money to Middle East terror groups. And you know what? I don’t want to know what that’s like.

Discrimination in these forms is horrible. But that doesn’t mean I want to experience it myself in an effort to gain some kind of anti-racist credibility.

What I’m saying right now is honest. And it will probably piss some people off. But the bottom line is that if we don’t discuss racism in this manner, then we’re just wasting our time discussing it in a less-honest and highly-censored way.

Now is this something that Starbucks should invite into its stores? While I applaud the company’s intentions, I don’t think so. But then again, no one’s really going to discuss race in an honest way anyway, so perhaps it doesn’t matter.

In the meantime, I remain bullish on Starbucks and still believe that this is a $100 stock. Investors of all races should invest accordingly.