Starbucks’ Bias Training Ripped as Anti-White Men
Seattle-based chain's sensitivity session might be in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws
Coffeehouse retail giant Starbucks is accused of discrimination for implementing an anti- racial bias training program that targets its own white male employees.
Starbucks convened the training Tuesday at thousands of its corporate-owned locations across the country to prevent “implicit bias” that allegedly leads to discrimination in their stores. But some critics argue the training is itself discriminatory and may even violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“All of the implicit bias training is predicated on the idea that all whites act a certain way and that all males act a certain way,” Project 21 Chairman Horace Cooper told LifeZette. “You couldn’t any more have an employer saying all blacks act a certain way and all women act a certain way and I am therefore going to have to start special programs that target those people.”
“‘Virtue signaling’ is sort of a way that an employer might want to create an impression of what kind of community steward they are,” Cooper said. “But virtue signaling isn’t any different than honoring segregation or honoring old-fashion stereotypes or any other type of employer interaction with employees that the Civil Rights Act covers. You don’t get to say because it’s 2018, it’s OK for an employer to target their own workforce.”
Project 21 — an initiative of conservative non-profit the National Center for Public Policy Research — argues that anti-bias training like the Starbucks sessions discriminates against white male employees who are presumed to harbor implicit racial prejudice. Stacy Washington, a radio show host and television personality, also serves as the co-chair for the project.
The training was prompted when an employee in a Starbucks facility in Philadelphia called the police to remove two African-American men who sat inside the store but didn’t buy anything. The incident prompted a firestorm of people alleging racism because the two men were merely talking about business concerns.
“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said when he announced plans on April 17 for the training. “Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”
But Cooper said Johnson’s approach reflects a flawed political culture that for decades has encouraged reverse discrimination in the name of fighting racism.
“What the Civil Rights Act of 1964 said is, no, you can’t do that,” Cooper said. “We are not concerned whether you’re going to stay in business or not, or whether you’re going to be liked or not. You’re not going to be able to say these are Black jobs, these are white jobs, these are men jobs and these are women jobs.”
Project 21 asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to examine whether the Starbucks training violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin and religion.
Cooper said there’s nothing wrong with a company trying to stop bad behavior against customers, or publicly touting it’s openness and opposition to racism. But singling out employees because of their race or gender is wrong.
“Implicit bias training is not everyone is going to learn to be nicer to customers,” Cooper said. “It is specifically helping employees to learn that, if they are men, they have certain toxic activities that they naturally engage in, but they need to stop. And if they are white, they have certain privileged activities that they naturally and instinctively engage in.”
Also expressing concern over racial bias training is ForAmerica, a coalition of pro-life advocacy groups and leaders who claimed in a letter Tuesday that Starbucks’ training doesn’t resolve the company’s own history of racism regarding Planned Parenthood. The letter claims that that Black population has been reduced by 30 percent because of abortion since 1973.
“This week, Starbucks is holding ‘racial-bias education’ training for nearly 175,000 employees nationwide” the letter states. “If you think this public relations fix means Starbucks is no longer complicit in racism, it’s time to wake up and smell your own coffee.”
ForAmerica challenged Kevin Johnson to stop donations to Planned Parenthood which it accuses of taking lives away from minority communities. Planned Parenthood provides abortions alongside health and planning services. ForAmerica also accused the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, of being an outspoken racist.
“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” Sanger once said in a quote cited by ForAmerica.
Starbucks did not respond to LifeZette’s request for comment.