After the unwarranted arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks, the major coffee shop has shut down over 8,000 of its stores for four hours on Tuesday to give their employees bias training. Over 175,000 people will be taken through the ropes of learning about unconscious bias.
Based on a video that previewed the bias training course, some Starbucks executives will be addressing their employees as well as rapper/ actor/ activist Common. Starbucks worked closely with the NAACP, Perception institute and several other social advocacy groups to make this workshop possible. This lesson will also feature a documentary about civil rights from the 1960s to today.
While this is all done with great intentions many people question whether or not this training will really be effective. According to experts, this training can work unfavorably if people feel judged or attacked. The reality is everyone has bias. The first step to getting people be open to this education is to first have them admit they all have bias. Black and white people in American have a sordid history of oppression, exploitation, hostility, retaliation, and fear.
Is a short film about the 1960’s and forward enough to make people understand the deep rooted issue of unconscious bias in America? These issues did not just pop up in the ’60’s. This prejudicial mindset carried by both blacks and whites has been percolating since SLAVERY. Modern day people are holding hostility towards each other for crimes our forefathers committed. Our history in America has molded the people who raise us and teach us how to think and judge others. While Martin Luther King is a social icon for change the reality is, majority of people (black and white) do not adhere to his teachings of pacifism and acceptance of others. Many people pretend to judge others by the content of their character but most people still persecute and prosecute by skin color.
The reality is the anti-bias training will not protect most people when they clock out of Starbucks and go back into the real world. People of all colors: black, white and brown will face issues and prejudices about offenses that they have not committed but are deep rooted in our history. People are not born biased, it’s a learned behavior. To think that these employees will change their ways after a 4 hour course is preposterous and naive.