On Saturday, Starbucks announced a change to their store policy. Now, anyone can use its cafes as a seating area, even if they aren’t customers, according to the Associated Press.
Starbucks recently changed their restroom policy after two African American men were arrested and escorted off the property by police in a Philadelphia store. The men entered, didn’t purchase anything, asked to use the customers-only restroom, and allegedly refused to leave when asked by both the manager and police.
Additionally, on April 17, Starbucks announced that 8,000 company-owned stores will close on the afternoon of May 29 so that employees can receive "racial bias training."
Here’s the thing — Starbucks simply isn’t going far enough. Sure, these initial changes, which have come about in reaction to the incident in Philadelphia, are a decent first step, but they have a long way to go.
The following are my ideas that, if implemented correctly, will make Starbucks a leader in the social justice movement.
PART I: Stop Selling Goods and Services
Starbucks has been selling coffee, food, and branded paraphernalia for decades. Unfortunately, much of what they sell is simply too expensive for low-income individuals to afford. A Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte is $5.93!
While some may have the luxury of spending $5.93 on a hot cinnamon beverage, many others cannot afford to pay such a price. Instead, low-income individuals may have to live with a simple black coffee for $2.45 — or worse, they may have to make coffee at home.
Is this not a form of class discrimination? Starbucks needs to stop dividing human beings into categories based on how much money they can fork over, and stop selling goods and services entirely.
PART II: Become a Gathering Place
After the company stops divisively selling goods and services, Starbucks can enter its next growth-phase. Instead of taking money in exchange for coffee and seating space, Starbucks stores can simply act as multi-purpose buildings. How these spaces are used would be up to the individual. Young entrepreneurs who need a quiet place to brainstorm ideas, or homeless people who need a place to sleep and urinate — Starbucks can be anything to anyone.
Will this process lead to the bankruptcy of the company? Most certainly — but isn’t bankruptcy a better option than having police officers arrest two men who didn’t order any food, tried to use a customers-only restroom, and refused to leave after being asked?
PART III: Stand Up to Greed
Once Starbucks runs out of money due to lack of revenue, and can no longer function as a gathering space for entrepreneurs or the homeless, property-owners will demand that the company abandon its stores and turn them over for renovation and resale. This is the grand finale.
Rather than allow greedy capitalists to reclaim their real estate, Starbucks should file lawsuits demanding that property-owners keep open these spaces so that they may be enjoyed by the people.
Why should these spaces have to cost anything? Is it even possible for these real estate developers to own the land upon which these Starbucks cafes are standing? Should not the land belong to the people?
In its final moments, as lawsuits collapse around it, Starbucks can become a symbol of social justice the likes of which the United States has never seen.