Why Is There No Starbucks Coffee House in Selma?

Jen Kuznicki | March 19, 2015 | 1:57pm EDT
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Starbucks Corp. CEO Howard Schultz speaks Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in front of an image of a barista at the coffee company's annual shareholders meeting in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Starbucks executive Corey duBrowa recently deleted his twitter account, after what he said were abusive comments as a result of his push for a campaign in which his baristas were to engage with customers about race relations.

"I was personally attacked through my Twitter account around midnight last night and the tweets represented a distraction from the respectful conversation we are trying to start around Race Together," duBrowa said. "I’ll be back on Twitter soon."

But the whole point of the conversations he promoted, was to get people talking about what is uncomfortable, and controversial.  It seems childish to delete his own twitter account over it.

A story from showed just what happens when you walk into a Starbucks wanting to engage in a discussion on race.  Pretty much nothing.  The baristas are young kids, just trying to do their job and get through the day, and are kind of embarrassed to even bring it up.  I kind of feel sorry for them.

It is the fault of the mindless executives who put the Starbucks’ employees through this, which is why I’m not a big fan of boycotts.  It’s not the employee’s fault, they just have a job to do, and the money at the top is usually not as hurt as the kids making coffee.

But a friend of mine named Paul made a brilliant point.

If Starbucks wants us to talk about race, let’s start with why they don’t have Starbucks Coffee Houses in some of America’s cities that are mostly black, or have had a racially charged history?

My friend looked up various cities, and found that there are no Starbucks Coffee Houses in many of them.

Places like Highland Park, Michigan, which is at the center of Detroit, is inhabited by a population that is 94 percent African-American.  Or in Benton Harbor, Michigan, which is almost 90 percent African-American.  There is not a Starbucks in either town.

There is not a Starbucks in East St. Louis, Illinois, in which 98 percent of the population is African-American. Nor is there one in Gary, Indiana, whose population is 85 percent African-American.

The recent remembrance of the march on Selma, Alabama had the president walking down the street with many people who fought for civil rights, but once again, Selma doesn’t have a Starbucks. Neither does Ferguson, Missouri.

Here is the point, if Starbucks wants to have a conversation about race, perhaps they should explain why they are not accessible to most of those they claim to advocate for and champion.  If being of a different race than white is higher on their list of desirables, why isn’t Starbucks putting their money where their mouth is?

Jen Kuznicki is a wife and mother, seamstress by trade, and American patriot who says, "Now is the time to act."

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