Day 131: Howard Schultz, Starbucks

Photo: Starbucks.com

Photo: Starbucks.com

Wow, it’s easy to get behind on posting to the blog. Don’t worry though…the letters are still going out, at least one a day.

Today I’m sharing my letter to Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz. You may recall a few months ago the coffee giant launched an initiative called Race Together. The results were mixed at best (I’m being kind – it received some very strong criticism), but I commend Mr. Schultz and Starbucks for taking the risk.

Day 131-2

Dear Howard,

About two months ago, Starbucks launched the Race Together initiative. While I know that the results were not what you hoped for, I want to congratulate you for being bold enough to take on this topic. From his jail cell in Birmingham, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” Thank you for breaking the silence.

Coffee shops have their roots in bringing people together for conversation. You attempted to help facilitate a dialogue that we desperately need. While Baltimore and Ferguson are easy to focus on, we need not look further than our own neighborhoods to see that we still have a long way to go to improve racial harmony in our country.

I generally hold disdain for corporate leaders who use their status to further agendas that fall outside of their stated responsibilities to shareholders, but when the issues are as paramount and universal as race, equality or conservation – I feel it is not only your right, but your duty to help bring people together, break down discriminatory practices and operate in a sustainable manner.

Keep up the good work and let me know what I can do to help.

Best,
Reed

P.S. I wrote this letter to you over a doppio espresso at the Starbucks at Connecticut and R in Northwest Washington, D.C.

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