Earlier this week, Thandie Newton paid a visit to a central London Starbucks and encountered the following display of a young black child sporting a loin cloth and safari hat, carrying a massive bowl of Colombian coffee beans.
Naturally, Newton was angry about the racist, regressive figurine, and took to social media to air her grievances with the coffee giant. “Seriously @Starbucks?” wrote the actress. “At the counter – Loin cloth and Safari hat on a black child. Happy New Year circa 19th century.” (As a tweet Newton later retweeted pointed out, the display recalled the degrading “Mammy jars” that once suggested and marketed joyful African-American subservience.)
Hours later, Starbucks sprung into action via its @StarbucksHelp account, which has literally tweeted only four original messages since December of 2014 (the other 69,596 tweets are frantic replies beginning with “sorry for the trouble!”). “We are very concerned to learn of this incident & we can’t apologise enough,” tweeted the Wizard of Oz-like figure behind the account. “We have removed the figure & are investigating.”
Later, a spokesperson for Starbucks reached out to Entertainment Tonight to make another statement about the incident: “Serving as a welcoming place for everyone is core to who we are as a company. As we became aware of the offense, we immediately removed the figure from our store. We aim to provide an inclusive environment for all customers and communities in which we serve, and we are working with our partners (employees) to avoid similar incidents from happening in the future. We apologize for the offense caused.”
Though Newton retweeted Starbucks’ apology, she has yet to respond to the retailer in any capacity, instead content to serve them an ice-cold glass of shade.