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Friday, March 20, 2015

Conversation starters at Starbucks

Now that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has encouraged us to start a discussion about race with our local baristas, you may feel at a loss for something to say. Here are a few suggestions.

To a white barista:

"Why are you so racist?"

"You know you only got this great job because of your white privilege, right?"

"So how many people of color did you oppress today?"

"You won't really be happy until you see black people back in chains, will you?"

"Still bitterly clinging to your guns and religion and lattes, eh?"

"How does it feel to be part of a dying breed?"

To a barista of color:

"How much do you hate white people, really?"

"Do you feel that racial differences in IQ are genetic or environmental in origin?"

"Do you think rioting and looting are the legacy of slavery?"

"You do know you're a lot better off here than you would be in your native country, right?"

"Is the knockout game a legitimate form of protest?"

"So, got your green card yet?"

Some of these questions may feel uncomfortably direct. But rest assured, you'll only be doing as you were instructed.


Anonymous said...

Well, I'd let the manager know (skip the barista) that I'm opposed to race-based hate crimes, especially ones that are not reported in the media.

- Susan

John Craig said...

Susan --
Unfortunately, as far as the media is concerned, not all race-based crimes of violence are created equal.

MarieCurie said...

I had to look this up because I didn't believe it was true. My bad for doubting your veracity.

So do you think Schulz has sociopathic tendencies? If I believed that I could solve racism when so many others have failed seems narcissistic -- or he just idealistic?

From the Washington Post: "Schultz's rhetoric can trend toward the evangelical."

This article seems to indicate that Starbucks isn't so much better and suggest that CEO not much different from other companies.

Compare this w/a local business where, if they work more hours than he does the president pays employees more than himself.

Seems a little more humane/honest, imho..

John Craig said...

MarieCurie --
Honestly, I don't know that much about Schultz. The fact that he's a CEO makes him a little suspicious, but I've never looked into him; he could just be an idealist, or a True Believer.

Paavo said...

Offtopic: Have you checked out the HBO documentary The Jinx about Robert Durst?

Seemed like a glimpse at a sociopath and how people react to them. I found my self wanting to believe Durst everytime he gave an obvious lie. Something about lying so straight facedly without no emotional reactions I would normally associate with lying when confronted with truth.

Also the interviewer felt guilty about attacking the guy by confronting him with discrepansies. I could sympathise with that. For normal people it is just very difficult not to believe no matter how absurd the lie. And not believing someone seems just so rude that people rather not do it.

Anonymous said...

There is one thing we know about Schultz; he is Jewish.

I'm not sure if such an aggressively progressive social experiment has ever sprung form the mind of a Gentile.

Just an observation.


John Craig said...

Paavo --
No, haven't seen it, but did read about it. That was the show that basically tripped him up, right?

I know what you mean about wanting to believe someone who tells you something seemingly straightforwardly. I've done it myself in the past (before I learned about sociopaths the hard way).

And I think your definition of "normal" people relates to that: a "normal" person is a non sociopath who hasn't had enough experience with them to have wised up to them.

John Craig said...

Gardner --
Jewish people have been at the forefront of a lot of different types of liberalism, including nominal racial egalitarianism, no question.

I also suspect that in the "dialogue" he had in mind, the first set of "honest" questions would have been acceptable, but the second set would not.

Anonymous said...

"Dialogue" is double-speak for script. If you veer away from liberal orthodoxy, I'm sure your "conversation" at Starbucks will quickly be aborted.

To say that "Jewish people have been at the forefront of a lot of different types of liberalism, including nominal racial egalitarianism," is certainly true and terrifically understated.


John Craig said...

Gardner --
I guess I couldn't very well reply, "Well, 'understated' is my style," and maintain any sort of credibility.

I'm glad you're reading the blog, and you're obviously an extremely intelligent woman, and I enjoy all of your comments, but…….are you trying to get me in trouble?

MC said...

On second thoughts:

1) His actions are h_lla more than anything I personally have done lately (and are probably better than doing nothing).

2) I probably don't know what I'm writing about anyway (often don't).

Steven said...

I wonder what would happen to workers who veer from the liberal orthodoxy or bring up any of the actual salient issues.

John Craig said...

MC (MarieCurie?) --
Sorry, couldn't open that link.

The problem, as Gardner pointed out above, is that the conversation, forced or not, is always scripted, and one must not dare veer from the script, no matter how factual your point of view.

John Craig said...

Steven --


(That's the sound of a firing.)

Unless, i suppose, they don't get caught.

Steven said...

I thought it was the sound of me nailing it for a second there.

This is ridiculous, isn't it? As if there is any chance of a substantive, free discussion of the issues.

People don't want an uncomfortable discussion about race when they're trying to get a coffee anyway.

I was once in a university sociology class about race. It was a multiracial group and everybody (including non-whites) was being super careful not to say anything that could be construed as racist. It was a very liberal environment and political correctness was at its most stifling.

John Craig said...

Steven --
I've been in those types of environments, in my experience usually the whites are far more careful to be inoffensive than the nonwhites are. Usually it takes the form of the nonwhites accusing the whites of this or that form of racism and the whites scrambling to play defense.

Steven said...

The nonwhites i'm talking about were mostly of Pakistani descent and they were definitely being careful.

There were two black people in class. The guy was really into race issues and a bit of a know it all but okay; the girl I found to be gracious.

I guess we shouldn't expect our experience in different countries to be exactly the same. British blacks are immigrants, not ex slaves, not in this land anyway.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Aha, okay, got it.

Steven said... Britain has like 3% blacks, compared to 13% (?) in America.

The dynamic you described definitely plays out in the media here (articles and comments sections), the guardian being the finest possible example. Its nonwhites *and* liberal whites who do the accusing though.