Starbucks sent an internal memo that banned employees from wearing clothing or accessories that support the Black Lives Matter movement, according to Buzzfeed News, which obtained the memo. The directive was sent out in response to store managers who had contacted senior leadership in the company regarding their employees’ desire to wear Black Lives Matter (BLM)-related attire amidst the nationwide protests against police violence that have swept all 50 states. According to BuzzFeed, Starbucks employees are explicitly prohibited from wearing Black Lives Matter attire as part of their dress code, which bans any sort of political, religious, or personal accessories or clothing.
Starbucks management has argued that wearing BLM affiliated clothing could be misunderstood and potentially incite violence, which, according to Starbucks employees who spoke to BuzzFeed, feels disingenuous when you consider that the company regularly ignores its accessory rule when celebrating LGBTQ rights or marriage equality — both of which the company has passed out wearable swag for in the past.
On June 4th, the company issued and pinned a tweet that reads “Black lives matter. We are committed to being a part of change,” and included images indicating their commitment to anti-bias training, pledged to donate $1 million to organizations promoting racial equity, and announced that they’d be actively engaging in conversations with their black employees about racism and how they can do better as a company.
Black lives matter. We are committed to being a part of change.
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 4, 2020
22-year-old barista from Atlanta, Calvin Bensen, expressed his disappointment at Starbucks’ response to BuzzFeed, saying “My skin color incites violence at Starbucks. Should I not come to work? It is silencing and Starbucks is complicit. Now more than ever, Starbucks needs to stand with us.”
Despite the criticism, Starbucks doesn’t seem ready to budge from their position, “We respect all of our partners’ opinions and beliefs, and encourage them to bring their whole selves to work while adhering to our dress code policy,” said a spokesperson for the company. Last summer, the company issued an apology after six police officers in Arizona were asked to leave by a barista because customers in the store felt unsafe, which prompted some to call for a boycott of the company on social media. Now, many on social media are once again calling for a boycott of the brand, this time in response to their new dress code ban.
Over the past two hours, the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks has climbed up Twitter’s trending page with over 24,000 tweets, check out some of the critiques below.
Two black men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philly for doing nothing but waiting for a friend.
& now Starbucks is banning employees from wearing anything in support of black lives?
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) June 11, 2020
If YOU own shares of Starbucks, you better sell that shit…
Your coffee beans are from Central America yet you can’t support Black Lives Matter🤔🤔🤔
— Gvitz ⚡ (@gorovitz23) June 11, 2020
— ACAB (@joshua_beyonce) June 11, 2020
#BlackLivesMatter @Starbucks DOES NOT DESERVE $.01 of your ANNUAL TRILLION DOLLAR CONSUMERISM. #BoycottStarbucks PERMANENTLY no more apologies, no more 🥴 “sensitivity training” pic.twitter.com/NC2V3ftIoK
— Charlie Martin (@Charlieizagirl) June 11, 2020
— ThenewAngelaDavis (@EklecticAfro) June 11, 2020