Earlier this week, more than 8,000 Starbucks locations across the United States closed their doors for diversity training. Over 175,000 employees spent four hours learning about racial bias and how to break the cycle of stereotypes through open conversations and one powerful video that may just change the minds of the most skeptical critics.
The nationwide training session was prompted by an incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks, where black men Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested while waiting for a colleague to show up to a business meeting.
Camera phone footage of their arrest went viral, leading Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson to appear on Good Morning America to issue a public apology to Nelson and Robinson, calling his employees' actions "completely inappropriate” and “reprehensible.”
“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution,” Johnson said in a press release about why a special training session is necessary. “Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”
Johnson kept to his word, and the effective video he used during Tuesday's training sessions has been released. Throughout the eight-minute segment, the focus is placed firmly on systemic bias in public places and how access to those public places have been historically regulated in this country.
“It’s time we talk about what it means to not be welcomed as an American citizen,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of NAACP Legal Defense Fund and senior consultant to Starbucks’s racial bias training says in the video.
The short film interviews people of color describing their first-hand accounts of experiencing racism in places that should feel safe, such as the mall and restaurants. One interviewee says, "People assume you're doing something bad. I feel like I'm disturbing people or making them uncomfortable just walking in."
There also clips that range from the Civil Rights Movement to more recent headlines, including an officer choking a young black man outside Waffle House.
Watch the entire clip above. Trust us, it's worth it.