I was a Starbucks barista for years in college, and when I heard about the RaceTogether campaign I literally winced. There is not enough tip money in the universe to compensate baristas for making complicated drinks in 3 minutes while striking up corporate-forced conversations on an incredibly sensitive topic with complete strangers. And no amount of extra shots or drizzles of caramel can make up for some poor person’s day being ruined by getting the Racial Inquisition when all they really wanted was a cup of freaking coffee.
It’s not just that the setting is massively inappropriate, nor that being forced to transcend the boundaries of a relationship based entirely on a monetary transaction is irritating as shit. What is so mind-numbingly stupid about their quickly-pulled campaign is captured beautifully in this candid moment on MSNBC:
This is now where we are in the national conversation on race. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream is still so far from coming true that it seems impossible it ever will. No one is judging each other by the content of their character. Nancy Giles didn’t even allow judgement on the content of Jay Smooth’s words without pointing back to the color of his skin. Our myopic obsession with talking about race on the national level has turned our country into a gross parody of the country the Civil Rights Movement fought for. Instead of letting go of race we’ve got a stranglehold on it. Instead of being color-blind, color is all we see. Even Nancy Giles complained that people have lambasted her for being a black woman who talks like a white woman, and have accused her of wanting to be white.
Seriously, what the hell is wrong with us?
What the hell indeed.
UPDATE: I failed to originally point out that Calah ends with a must see video highlighting the technical advances we've made to fight racism. A must see.