In a letter posted March 22, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz reminded stores that the first phase of the company’s Race Together Initiative, which involves baristas writing “Race Together” on coffee cups to encourage talks about race, ends on Sunday.
Schultz offered his heartfelt gratitude to the individuals, baristas and customers alike, who participated in the said event. The initiative, according to the letter, aims to stimulate public conversations, not to mention “empathy and compassion toward one another.”
The first phase of the initiative was originally planned to end on March 22.
Schultz further acknowledged upcoming activities part of Race Together within the next few months, such as open forums, sections produced with USA Today, open dialogue with community leaders and police, its commitment to hire 10,000 opportunity youth in the next three years, making the store’s presence known in urban communities, and additional partnership to encourage racial and ethnic dialogues across the country.
The letter made it a point that Starbucks has always been aware of criticism toward the Race Together Initiative.
“While there has been criticism of the initiative — and I know this hasn’t been easy for any of you — let me assure you that we didn’t expect universal praise.”
Baristas writing “Race Together” on cups has sparked controversy on social media.
When asked if the act of ending the first phase of the initiative is the company’s reaction to criticism, The New York Times quoted Starbucks spokesperson Laurel Harper as saying, “That is not true at all. When we initially began the Race Together initiative, what we wanted to do is spark the conversation, because we believe that is the first step in a complicated issue.”