A Philadelphia Starbucks manager called the cops on two black men just two minutes after they entered and sat down for a business meeting, it was revealed Thursday.
It is certainly worth applauding both Starbucks and the Disney Corporation for their recent responses around issues of race and racism (“Starbucks to close over 8,000 stores for anti-bias training,” June 1). The Starbucks training is a start, no doubt, but in the long run, the issues of race and racism in our country are much bigger and deeper than individual "bias.”
Roseanne Barr obviously needs some training of some kind, although that might be closing the barn door long after the horse has run its mouth (“Zurawik: All praise to ABC for canceling ‘Roseanne’ after Barr’s hate-speech tweet,” May 29). Her views are unlikely to have long term impact on Valerie Jarrett, an accomplished and intelligent black woman. What does have long term negative impact are the underlying racial attitudes that inform our justice system, our educational system, our housing and our employment practices in general. Those are areas in which policies created over generations continue to have a major impact on the lives of people.
The kind of bias that creates the Starbucks issue from back in April, or the foolishness of Ms. Barr, only does damage on a larger scale if there is the power to impose such uninformed attitudes on policy and practice. When Donald Trump was a reality TV personality, his nastiness was limited — give him the levers of major power and the result is a renewed public growth of racist commentaries and practices overall. The individual prejudice from employees that targeted two black men at Starbucks was unacceptable. It would become virulently negative if those people shaped Starbucks hiring policy.
Let us, by all means, try to "train" ourselves out of racist bias, but let's not be fooled into thinking that suppressing prejudice is the same as altering power relationships in our nation.