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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Starbucks Race Conversations ‘Could Quickly Escalate To Violence’

UK STARBUCKS

TIME

The problem with Howard Schultz’s Race Together program is that he’s picked the wrong venue with the wrong audience using the wrong spokespersons. Most of the customers at Starbucks probably don’t want to have their political awareness challenged by the person foaming their coffee. Minds are more likely to be changed by someone with some form of expertise in the subject, which baristas generally don’t have. Those who do wish to engage in a conversation about something as volatile as race are not open to change, they are either already the choir of believers in equality or are racists looking for an audience. Either way, no change will result from the exchange. In fact, I worry that such conversations could quickly escalate to violence.

I admire Schultz’s courage and applaud his initiative in wanting to take action. It’s frustrating for all people of conscience — or just consciousness — to watch leaders in politics and the media deny the facts about racism in order to grovel for votes or ratings from the most profoundly and proudly prejudiced segment of society. For these “leaders,” money and power trumps social responsibility. 

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