NEVER MIND: How Starbucks is already backing away from ‘Race Together’ fiasco

That didn’t take long.

After a barrage of criticism that reached a crescendo Friday when a social media user tweeted a photo of Starbucks’ “mostly white” leadership team, CEO Howard Schultz appears to be backing away from his ill-fated “Race Together” campaign.

‘Only the coffee is black’: Shocking, ironic photo
of Starbucks’ 19 execs pushing racial chats

“We at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America,” Schultz said when he first announced the program Monday.

And the billionaire CEO apparently still believes this, but effective Sunday baristas will no longer write “Race Together” on customers’ cups as a means to kickstart the conversation on race relations.

starbucks-race-togetherStarbucks spokesman Jim Olson said the initiative will continue without the handwritten messages.

In a company memo, Schultz said the cups were “just the catalyst” for what Starbucks hopes will be a larger conversation on race, The Associated Press reported.

But the campaign has been beset with problems from the beginning.

The company’s senior vice president of communications temporarily deleted his Twitter account because of the flak he was getting after the announcement, and many baristas were uncomfortable with the idea of talking about race and hesitant to participate.

Just stop! Gasps over Starbucks full
page ‘Are You a Racist’ test in USA Today

Schultz seemed to acknowledge the unmerciful ridicule the campaign prompted online in his memo.

“While there has been criticism of the initiative — and I know this hasn’t been easy for any of you — let me assure you that we didn’t expect universal praise,” he wrote.

Olson said the decision to stop writing on customers’ cups is “all part of the cadence of the timeline we originally planned” — which is how corporations surrender without admitting defeat.

As Saul Alinsky once said, “ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
Looks like Starbucks is finding that out.

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Tom Tillison

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