The Starbucks Controversy: What Really Happened?

Is Starbucks a Racist Organization?

I will try my best to be as objective as possible. I don’t want to jump to a conclusion. I don’t want to immediately blame racism for this incident.

  • The two black men came into Starbucks, did not purchase anything (as many of us do from time to time) and were waiting for a friend to join them. A Starbucks employee asked them to leave if they were not buying anything, so that other potential customers would be able to sit down if they wanted to.
  • It was reported that they refused to leave the premise. Only the parties involved and spectators could see if it was a civil exchange or not. We can assume that it had escalated throughout the exchange to the point where an employee felt that he needed to bring in the police, because the employee had exercised his authority as a worker and they refused to follow the rules of the private enterprise.
  • From reading various sources of news, they spun the story to make it seem like the police waltzed into the store and, after a confrontation, were arrested unfairly when they had done nothing wrong. They were arrested because of their race, and the police and employee were being racists.
  • In the video, we can hear people protesting against the arrest of the two men. We don’t know how much they know about the current situation. For all we know, they could have been patrons who had just walked in and seen only the confrontation. We don’t know how credible these eye witnesses are.
  • What we are given is simply a video that starts with the men being arrested, and given no context of what had happened prior to this event. Social media helps to inflate the issue, because many people pick this video up and share it immediately without looking for the whole story to come out.
  • The two men walked into Starbucks and sat down at a table. They did not purchase anything and were presumably waiting for an acquaintance.
  • The two men were denied use of the bathroom because they had not purchased anything.
  • Starbucks employees have a policy to not give the bathroom code to a non-customer. This is probably to maximize profit and avoid backing up the bathroom for actual patrons. If people could just walk in and use their bathroom without paying for an item, Starbucks would be part cafe, part public restroom. They are a private company, which means they can have any rules they want for how they run the business. If they want you to leave the premises, you should follow their instructions or they are able to call the police and they can exercise their authority on you if you still refuse to leave.
  • The manager attempted to exercise his authority as a manager to kick out the non-customers so that other customers could have a place to sit and enjoy their pastries and coffee. The men refused to leave the premise. We do not know if this was a civil exchange. We do not know if the manager approached them with hostility or tried to ask them nicely. We do not know if the manager was met with hostility or indifference. What we can assume is that the situation escalated to the point where an agreement was no longer an option.
  • The manager believed that they could not properly exercise their authority and called the police. They decided the problem was out of their hands and now they needed to bring in the police.
  • The two men, still refusing to leave the premises, are still in the store when the police arrive. They ask the men to leave. The police commissioner in a later interview says that the officers asked the men to leave three times, and all requests were refused. They believe they have no choice but to have them forcibly removed for refusal to obey police officer and trespassing on private property.

Verdict: Starbucks is Not a Racist Organization

One thing that makes me understand the outrage is the fact that many people (who are not black) do go to Starbucks and loiter there without buying anything. On most occasions, they are not asked to leave. They are allowed to stay with their laptops and sometimes stay there for long periods of time, not allowing potential customers to have a seat to enjoy their pastries or coffee.

Before you go:

This man sums up the controversy extremely well and objectively. Don’t refuse to watch just because he has a Trump shirt on. He is a voice of reason in the midst of outrage and chaos.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
William Cho

William Cho

If you want to ask me a question or simply want to talk: I also write about a variety of other topics on!