No coffee as Starbucks staffers talk race all afternoon

No coffee as Starbucks staffers talk race all afternoon, by AP.

Starbucks closed thousands of US cafes yesterday and asked employees to talk about when they noticed their racial identity, discuss what unconscious bias is and watch videos in which people of colour describe feeling unwelcome in stores.

It was part of anti-bias training created after the arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks six weeks ago. …

The training was personal, asking workers to break into groups of three to five people to talk about their experiences with race. According to training mat­erials provided by the company, they were asked to pair up with a co-worker and list all the ways they “are different from each other”. A guidebook reminds people to “listen respectfully” and tells them to stop any conversations that get derailed. …

The training was not mandatory, but Starbucks said it expected almost all of its 175,000 employees to participate. It said they would be paid for the full four hours. …

In the Philadelphia incident, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were asked to leave after one was denied access to the bathroom. They were arrested by police minutes after they sat down to await a business meeting.

The arrest was recorded by mobile phone and triggered protests, boycott threats and debate over racial profiling, or what has been dubbed “retail racism”.

Mr Nelson and Mr Robinson settled with Starbucks for an undisclosed sum and an offer of a free college education. They also reached a deal with the city of Philadelphia for a symbolic $US1 ($1.33) each and a promise by officials to set up a $US200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.