Wrong Folks, Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Writing at Time, basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar pretty well nails what is wrong with the well-intentioned "Race Together" campaign of Starbucks:

The problem with Howard Schultz’s Race Together program is that he’s picked the wrong venue with the wrong audience using the wrong spokespersons. Most of the customers at Starbucks probably don’t want to have their political awareness challenged by the person foaming their coffee. Minds are more likely to be changed by someone with some form of expertise in the subject, which baristas generally don’t have. Those who do wish to engage in a conversation about something as volatile as race are not open to change, they are either already the choir of believers in equality or are racists looking for an audience. Either way, no change will result from the exchange. In fact, I worry that such conversations could quickly escalate to violence.
Add to the list of would-be pugilists leftists in search of an audience.

The few times I have been accosted at Starbucks have invariably been initiated by people I later observed annoying other customers with one-sided "conversations". For these "activists" (read: bullies) as well, the last thing on their minds is an honest pursuit of the truth. Somehow having a good knack for recognizing such individuals, I have become adept over the years at ending such encounters quickly --  or at least without ceding the moral high ground. Still, I don't need the staff encouraging such behavior.

That said, while there are a few things Abdul-Jabbar says that I disagree with, I found his goodwill and general sense of optimism refreshing. May Starbucks VP Corey duBrowa read it! He doubtlessly needs a lift.

-- CAV

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