1,000 signatures reached
To: Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO
Starbucks: Commit to fixing your own racism!
If Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is truly committed to addressing racism in America and making the promise of the American Dream a reality for everyone, we ask that Starbucks look within and apply its resources toward real solutions – not PR stunts.
We’re glad Schultz has begun to rethink the initiative and is expressing a commitment to open more stores in communities of color. But, however good intentioned, “leaning in hard” or opening more stores in communities of color without evaluating the company’s own state of racial (in)equity is irresponsible and will only perpetuate the problem.
If Starbucks is truly committed to advancing racial equity in our communities we ask that:
1) Starbucks corporation completes a company-wide review of racial equity in the workplace to evaluate whether the company protects baristas from racism in the workplace, achieves racial diversity and equity in its frontline workforce and board room, and provides a living income and a fair workweek for the baristas coming from communities of color across the country. This process must meaningfully engage Starbuck workers and community stakeholders.
2) The findings of the report – which should include real data of the company’s racial equity status along with the wages and income, hours, and benefits for workers of color across the country – will be made public at an open worker and community forum at which point steps to address internal racial equity will be announced.
Why is this important?
We each hail from Milwaukee – a city we love deeply. Yet every day, we're faced with the reality that systemic racism, police brutality, and a lack of good jobs have made our community home to both the highest incarceration rate for African Americans and the highest joblessness rate for Black men in the country.
Roughly 40% of Starbucks' workforce are people of color – yet just 15% of its executives are of color. And in Milwaukee, which is a majority people of color city, African American employees are scarce in Howard Schultz's workforce. Clearly, there is plenty of work for Starbucks to do in its own house. We've each laid out some of our thoughts below.
I've worked at Starbucks for three years, and have lived and worked in Milwaukee for the past six months. My crew is excellent, and we support each other through tough days and busy shifts. The people in my store understand the challenges facing the patrons we serve. We are part of our community and we understand its needs. I also know that Starbucks – as a corporate entity – can do a lot more for its workers, customers and the communities it serves.
During the week of March 16th, my manager distributed a roll of stickers and passed around a handout detailing the new "Race Together" initiative. I was shocked – it seemed so hypocritical when Starbucks employs thousands of baristas of color in jobs that pay poverty wages with too few hours to survive. Why not raise wages so that every barista makes at least $15 an hour and has access to stable, full-time work?
If the company really cared about racial justice, they would look at the diversity of its workforce. Here in Milwaukee, it's hard to miss the fact that most of the Starbucks employees in this majority people of color city are white. Starbucks should be part of the solution by hiring more people of color in our city and giving these employees jobs that can support a family.
When we first learned of Starbucks' new "Race Together" campaign, we were kind of appalled. My brother, Dontre Hamilton, was shot 14 times by police after Starbucks employees repeatedly called the police on him. The people of Milwaukee have been protesting and petitioning for months for Starbucks to meet with us to discuss its role in the killing of my brother, and to help us heal and find a solution so that this tragedy never happens again. We've been asking the Starbucks CEO to speak out in support of our efforts, but have seen little in response.
I've lived in Milwaukee most of my life and I feel Milwaukee can and must do better. What happened at the Red Arrow Starbucks is a symptom of the lack of investment and opportunity for black folks in Milwaukee. Starbucks has an important role to play here.
By asking employees – without training or support – to engage in dialogue with total strangers about this deeply personal issue, you’re revealing just how little you understand about white privilege and systemic racism. My brother's tragic killing was an opportunity to initiate a frank conversation about the diversity of Starbucks employees, your policies and practices when dealing with diverse communities, and the impact racial bias, profiling and inequality have on your stores. Instead, corporate has done next to nothing but write #RaceTogether on a cup.
Howard Schultz has announced that he's coming to Milwaukee on April 1st. I'd like Schultz to commit to real solutions during that visit – not gimmicks. The practices that led to the death of Dontre are being repeated in stores across the country. This isn't a Milwaukee problem, it's a company-wide problem. If Schultz wants to address racism he can start by making meaningful changes in his own business practices, by setting company wide protocols for dealing with diverse communities and by creating good jobs for our communities.