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There needs to be more than racial bias training

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With racial incidents, such as the shooting death of Stephon Clark and the nationwide protests in response to the shooting, making headlines recently, it’s clear that there is heightened tension between the police and the African American community

Now, the focus has come to racial tensions at businesses as well since there was an altercation between two black individuals with a Philadelphia Starbucks store manager that was followed by an interaction with police.

What began as a visit to the cafe turned south when the men had asked to use the restroom, but were denied because they had not purchased anything and had refused to leave.

Starbucks executive Chairman Howard Shultz recommended employees should be trained for racial bias, and called for 8,000 Starbucks stores to be closed on May 29. The afternoon will be spent educating approximately 175,000 employees about racial bias.

It was the right thing to do morally and business wise, especially with racial tension being as high as it is now.

Reactions to the stores closing for training were mostly favorable on social media. Author and journalist Sophia Nelson tweeted, “Kudos to #Starbucks CEO he is killing it!”

Actor George Takei even tweeted: “If you are angry about @Starbucks closing for a day to train staff and help stop racial profiling, you are kind of part of the problem.”

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson acknowledged that the larger issue around racial bias doesn’t just involve mega-corporations such as themselves, it involves dedication from smaller corporations in local communities as well, according to an article from Paper.

Starbucks plans to have experts such as former Attorney General Eric Holder and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt to help design a new racial bias program.

One thing that is praiseworthy is that Starbucks is not integrating racial bias with programs like “diversity” training. It seems as this training will strictly focus more on the racism that is underlying around these incidents.

Implicit bias is the unconscious thought of stereotypes when encountering the certain individual.

Although video footage of this has recently surfaced, racism in these establishments is nothing new. According to an article released by CNN, a Denny’s in Washington was criticized because one of their waitresses attempting to make a group of young black men pay for their bill before they ate. Earlier this year in February, a video was uploaded by a woman who said the men were being racially profiled and thought to have not paid off the bill, according to a Washington Post article.

For employers who believe their workplace lacks diversity, they must face their bias head on. Of course, bias comes in a variety of ways, some even taking the form of an implicit bias, which is the unconscious associating certain characteristics to a certain group of people.

They must ask themselves why they find people of color more suspicious than a white person. Incidents like Starbucks will continue to happen even if employers hire more people of color. In order for things to change, it requires us to address our own biases.

What can be taken from these incidents is that large and small companies need training that focuses strictly on implicit bias as well as employees acknowledging their own biases. After all, their impact is what has lead to most of these racial incidents to occur to begin with.

 

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There needs to be more than racial bias training