Last week, we saw two people, breaking no law or code of conduct, arrested at Starbucks. Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were treated like criminals because of their identity – they are black and male. A white woman manager perceived them to be a threat and called the police. The police took her word for it, handcuffing and escorting the men out. Even though they were just peacefully waiting for a colleague before purchasing their beverages. In some sense, this story is not new.
Footage of the incident went viral and thanks to people like you and the leadership at Starbucks, the company is setting an example by closing for a day as they prioritize unconscious bias training for employees at the expense of profits. We applaud their effort but also know that one day at one company is not enough. We Americans have to have a serious conversation about racism and our values that put some people above others.
Because racism, bias, and the disregard for black bodies, lives, and dignity still propagates throughout our society. It’s not just Starbucks’ problem now, it’s all of ours. That’s why this week, we’re asking you to take the implicit bias test on race available online from Harvard and discuss your results with your friends and family. What did you learn about yourself? How can you start the internal work of rooting out prejudice, conscious or unconscious? And what structures can you affect to lessen racism’s effect on people of color?
Together, let us commit to holding ourselves and others accountable. From there, we can build a more just and equitable world for all.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom & The Representation Project Team