Bowing to pressure from African-American activists, Starbucks excluded the Anti-Defamation League from an upcoming daylong anti-bias training session.
The ADL, whose mission is to fight anti-Semitism, will play an advisory role in the company’s long-term efforts to combat discrimination, Jaime Riley, a Starbucks spokeswoman, told POLITICO Monday. But the group won’t help develop the curriculum for Starbucks’ May 29 mandatory anti-bias training, as originally planned.
The anti-bias training was prompted by the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks who asked to use the bathroom without making a purchase as they waited to meet a business associate. A video of the arrest went viral, prompting a public backlash and the trending hashtag #BoycottStarbucks.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson quickly apologized, calling the situation “reprehensible.” On April 17, the the company announced it would close more than 8,000 U.S. locations to conduct mandatory training to prevent racial bias, using a curriculum to be developed by leaders from a number of anti-bias groups, including Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL.
“When Starbucks asked for assistance, we agreed to help,” ADL spokesman Todd Gutnick told POLITICO. “As to whether Starbucks may or may not now want to utilize our expertise, you should ask them.”
Liel Leibovitz, writing today in Tablet, a “a daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture,” was less measured in his criticism. “Shame on Starbucks for giving in to bigotry,” he said.
But Starbucks’ Riley denied the company cut the organization loose because of political pressure, saying in an email, “We are architecting a multi-phase approach to addressing bias.”
Almost immediately after the April 17 announcement, activists attacked Starbucks over the ADL’s involvement, citing the ADL’s support for Israel and its arms-length relationship to the Black Lives Matter movement.
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