Without verifying it, I'm sure every pea brained racist from here to the moon is playing the keyboard warrior role and suggesting any and every scenario to justify this mistreatment of these two men. Clearly, anyone who attends coffee shops, whether Starbucks, Peets, independent, whatever, knows that its quite common for people to delay ordering until all their party arrives. And, the extremely unusual response from the surrounding European (White) customers who vehemently protested the treatment of these Africans confirms how absurd the entire incident was.
So, why and how does something like this happen? The answer is that African people are wholesale criminalized in such a remote controlled and programmatic fashion today that anything we do from sitting in a coffee shop to walking through a neighborhood minding our own business subjects us to being harassed and possibly killed. Since this oppressive conditioning is systemic, there is a scientific connection between the criminalizing practice of the store manager and the police.
What we desire to talk about here is the corporate response from Starbucks. They announced today that they will be closing 8000 stores (not sure if this is all their stores, but it must be a considerable number of them, if not all) concurrently to conduct some racial bias training for all Starbucks employees. This announcement came on the heels of Starbucks evidently firing the manager who called the police.
If you are not familiar with what racial bias training looks like, its a workshop type setting where people are asked to engage modules designed to help them understand the realities of life for people who are discriminated against because of their race. There are scores of these modules out here like the social identity exercise. In this case, people stand in a circle and they are prohibited from expressing anything verbally except calling out identities like "man, women, LGBTQ, African, sexual assault survivor," etc. When an identity is called out, the people who identify with that identity are expected to enter the circle, stay there a moment, and move back to the circle. After about 20 minutes of engaging in this exercise, people sit and debrief the exercise. What generally comes out of the exercise is people learn several things. They are not alone in their connection to certain identities they feel alienate them. They realize they have much in common with people they previously may have thought they had nothing in common with. The point is from these experiences, people learn to see people from oppressed communities as full human beings which hopefully helps them think twice before remotely criminalizing them. I've participated in these types of activities many times. I've even facilitated them for work countless times. They are great exercises and coupled with some information, they can help, but they cannot effectively solve the problem of racial profiling. The reason they can't is because this type of dehumanizing behavior is only possible because the people victimized by the behavior are not respected. The trainings can help people learn to look a little closer at people as individuals, but they cannot resolve the issue of the collective disrespect for a people. That collective issue is so ingrained that nine out of 10 times, it will overpower the effects of any training.
This issue of respect can only be resolved by one thing. The oppressed people must find the method of achieving respect for themselves. The only way African people can reverse the impacts of the deep levels of disrespect that we experience is by us being able to systemically change the way we perceive ourselves. The only way we can accomplish this is by changing our conditions, or at least gaining and owning the process we engage in to achieve this. In our humble view, the key to this is the unification and liberation of Africa (under scientific socialism) e.g. Pan-Africanism. The key to changing how we view ourselves is in how Africa is viewed. As long as Africa is viewed with disrespect, contempt, and paternalism, African people can never be expected to view themselves any differently and certainly others cannot view us in healthy ways. On the flip-side, if we are a united people with a strong land base backing us up, how would sitting in a Starbucks play out? For starters, people would learn quickly to think first before acting out towards us. They would do this because they would know there are consequences for disrespecting African people. Potentially, trade wars for cell phone products, gold, diamonds, oil, cocoa, etc. The message would spread fast that these African people are to be treated with respect. Sort of like how Chinese people are treated today around the world. Africans who live in Africa can tell you stories about how privileged Chinese people in Africa are all the way down to how much people hate having traffic accidents with Chinese folks in Africa. This is true because the level of financing and infrastructure the Chinese currently control in Africa makes Africans hesitant to do anything to offend their Asian visitors. Hell, the Chinese built the new African Union headquarters in Ethiopia. So, respect. That's the key. With that, I guarantee you that store manager doesn't call the police and the police don't react the way they did even if they happen upon the scene. The results we get now are without question connected to the low position African people occupy in this society and that position is here because of Africa's low position in the world today.
Finally, let's be clear that Starbucks announcing and carrying out this training isn't the result of them having any sincere commitment to eliminating racism from their employees. If they had that, this training would have already been in their process. It wouldn't have taken an incident like this to make it happen. The only reason this training is happening, and certainly the only reason they announced that they are doing it, is because their corporate leadership recognizes that African people buy coffee and tea too. And there are some Europeans who are appalled by that type of overt racism (even if the subtle institutional varieties of racism are fine with these types of White folks). Plain and simple, Starbucks is engaging in a marketing effort by announcing and carrying out these trainings. Still, its worth noting that their fear of losing our dollars speaks to, without us doing anything at all, the potential power we have that we possess even if we don't know it and our enemies do. If we have that type of power that we don't even exercise, imagine what type of power we could have if we controlled what is rightfully ours?