By John W. Lillpop
Like most Americans, rarely does a day go by in my world without a serious encounter with the smoldering issue of race relations.
Indeed, it is nearly impossible to escape the ubiquitous harangues about the “legacy of racial discrimination,” or the evil of “white privilege” which, regrettably, has eluded this neglected Caucasian for decades!
When, at the end of the day, my eyes finally shut for a well-deserved respite, the topic of race relations is purged from my awareness by the grace of God.
Further, by the grace of God, I do not dream about race relations!
Upon waking, like millions of other caffeine addicted Americans, my first urgent need of the new day is to feed the caffeine monster that dwells within.
At this point, the furthest thing from my still-numb mind is racial relations.
I need a respectable level of caffeine in my veins, all the way up to my brain, before anything more complicated or controversial than the “March Madness” basketball brackets can be discussed, debated, considered, or even mentioned.
Imagine, then, my astonishment upon learning that Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO, has instructed coffee baristas in his employ to engage me in “race together” talk!
Schultz may very well be a genius when it comes to coffee and croissants, but the man is utterly clueless when it comes to respecting and satisfying the sophisticated emotional needs and wishes of patrons!
Prodding barely awake coffee addicts into riveting conversations about the most divisive, controversial topic in American history is NOT good business or particularly patriotic---particularly at 5 AM!
Schultz would be far better off concentrating exclusively on pushing his overpriced, bitter beverages, and leaving race talk to professionals whom are paid to cater to thosee who voluntarily pursue diverse opinions and viewpoints on race.. and the inevitable, inherent risk of violence therein.
Mind you, most of the Starbucks baristas I have encountered seem to be decent, intelligent beings, quite expert in Cappuccino, Latte and chocolate croissant delights.
However, to date none seem in possession of the requisite knowledge, temperament, or political acumen needed to host civil, non-violent public discourse about the most volatile subject in American history!
Mr. Schultz, you are well aware of the fact that the United States fought a great civil war in the 1860s over the issue that you want your baristas to deliberately bring up to clients, right?
In that war, be reminded that an estimated 800,000 American lives were lost on the battle field---all because some damn fool thought we needed to discuss race relations!
Are you willing, Mr. Schultz, to be remembered in history as the coffee merchant who provoked the start of the 2nd US civil war?
If not, please restrain yourself by keeping the coffee hot and croissants fresh AND, above all else, by ordering your baristas to studiously avoid any mention of race relations!