Just weeks away from its much-publicized "unconscious bias"/racial sensitivity training session, Starbucks is facing yet another accusation of racism. While not as dramatic as two black men being arrested in the middle of one of its cafes, the latest episode is stirring up similar outrage, this time for alleged discrimination against a Latino man.
A Latino customer of a Los Angeles Starbucks named Peter says that he received a cold coffee drink with the label "BEANER" on it.
"En español es 'frijoleros,' 'beaner,' you know, in English," the victim’s friend Miguel Acosta told CBS Los Angeles Wednesday. "He went to Starbucks, and they asked for his name, and his name is 'Peter,' and they wrote this 'beaner.' And he’s saying that’s not fair," Acosta said through a translator, adding that his friend is "also sad."
When CBS2 told patrons at the La Cañada Starbucks about the allegation, they were "shocked" and "disappointed."
"I'm shocked," said a female regular. "I go to that Starbucks almost every day." A male customer said he was "disappointed in Starbucks," noting that to get a name on the label, the employee must type it into the computer. "And I guess it brings back a lot of discrimination," said another customer. "It brings back a lot of old, you know, growth that we should’ve had before."
CBS2 tried to get a comment from the store manager to no avail, but the company eventually issued a statement:
This is not indicative of the type of experience we want our customers to have when they walk into our stores. We have apologized to the customer directly and are working to make things right.
The incident is yet another episode in Starbucks' racial bias PR nightmare, which began with a viral cellphone video of two African American male customers being arrested in a Starbucks in Philadelphia for loitering after having failed to purchase a drink while waiting for a meeting with a potential business partner. After protests at the store, Starbucks announced that it would be closing over 800 stores on May 29 to hold a company-wide "unconscious bias" training session headed up by leaders of minority activist groups.
But Starbucks added another ugly wrinkle to the accusations of bigotry when it decided to drop the leader of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League amid pressure from radical Black Lives Matter activists who have espoused anti-Israel sentiments.