The Apology Letter Howard Schultz And Starbucks Should Write For The ‘Race Together’ Initiative

“I am a reflection of the community. I am not saying I am going to rule the world or that I am going to change the world. But I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” — Tupac

Starbucks Holds Annual Shareholders Meeting
Starbucks Holds Annual Shareholders Meeting – Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Recently, we co-launched an initiative with USA Today called “Race Together.” To say the least, this initiative created quite a stir in the social media sphere. We would like to issue a formal apology on behalf of our CEO, company, and partners. Many of these words have already been stated in an internal memo, but we would like to better communicate our goals to you as we hope to learn from your perspectives as well.

Dear Public,

Since December, we have been hosting Partner Open Forums to discuss issues of race, prejudice, and lack of economic opportunity. Time and time again at these forums, the singular question was asked, “what more can we do?” We believe the ultimate answer lies in a better understanding of our community.

We believe Starbucks could have the greatest impact on our communities by creating more empathy, compassion and understanding in our society. On March 16, we invited partners to write “Race Together” or “Together” on cups for three reasons:

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‘Isolation Play’: The Difficult Year of Jeremy Lin

It isn’t Kobe’s taunts or humiliating viral videos that have made this the toughest year of Jeremy Lin’s life. It’s the feeling that, as hard as he tries, he just doesn’t fit in.

By Pablo S. Torre for ESPN The Magazine

Jeremy Lin
Photograph by Joe Pugliese

BETWEEN THREE AND a million years ago, after an increasingly intimidating series of meetings with literary agents, I resolved to write a book about the ascension of Jeremy Lin. None of this was my idea. But publishers, like the rest of this planet in February 2012, wanted to hawk something — anything — branded with the word Linsanity. And I happened to be an Asian American in New York City with Harvard-induced debt and a few relevant Sports Illustrated clips.

It was terrifying. While everyone could already recite the beats of Lin’s rise — Harvard, undrafted, cut twice, D-League, brother’s couch, Madison Square Garden — nobody knew where the most cinematic sports story in memory was going next week, let alone next fall. So when the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent dropped 38 to defeat Kobe Bryant at a volcanic Garden, I mapped out the vantage points of his shocked parents and friends in the crowd. When rappers Rick Ross and Stalley Instagrammed Lin Sanity OG, a strain of weed they’d purchased, I sought out a review. (“Once it sits with you for a while,” Stalley emailed, “it brings out the creative juices that allow you to work diligently.”) When a hoodied Lin tried to sneak into a Harvard-Columbia game, I took notes while wedged between his electronics engineer dad, Gie-Ming, who first taught Jeremy the game, and Spike Lee.

By mid-March, of course, Linsanity’s biggest ally, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, would resign amid discord with Carmelo Anthony. By early April, the point guard himself would undergo knee surgery for a torn left meniscus, mercy-killing my panicked literary aspirations and hinting, finally, at where this story was going next. By now, 36 months later, my notes look like the monuments of a once-proud city, frozen in time. A sort of point guard Pompeii.

But my motive for revisiting these memories isn’t nostalgia, it’s ignorance. Since the Rockets signed Lin away from the Knicks in July 2012, then traded him to the Lakers two years later, he and I have exchanged a few friendly texts a season. But we hadn’t had a substantive conversation in years. As the league whispered What the hell is happening to Jeremy Lin? something hit me: I knew nothing about his interior life. Not anymore.

Not about what it’s like to approach unrestricted free agency for the first time since going undrafted. Not about slogging through what he will eventually call “as hard of a year as I’ve ever had to experience,” complete with on-court demotions and viral humiliations.

After I consult some of Lin’s old friends and coaches, in fact, a consensus emerges. Yes, they all worry about Jeremy. How could they not? They all saw that video wherein Bryant, having spent one practice daring Lin to shoot, declares, “You motherfuckers are soft like Charmin in this motherfucker!” And no, they don’t quite know what the hell is happening to Jeremy Lin either.

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The Curious Case Of Ellen Pao And The Lesson We Can Learn From It

“What brush do you bend when dusting your shoulders from being offended?” — Kendrick Lamar

Ellen Pao Ellen Pao

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination “based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.” Many of us recognize this familiar language, but the actual definition of “discrimination” remains nebulous. As New Yorker writer Vauhini Vara notes, the courts’ definitions for “discrimination” have evolved over time, along with social norms.

Employment lawyers like Kathleen Lucas are closely monitoring Ellen Pao’s sex-discrimination case against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers because they believe the verdict could have big potential implications in the venture capital and tech industries. The outcome of Pao’s case may not have a direct impact on a firm’s culture, but it could give occasion for others who feel discriminated against to address inequities in the workplace.

Currently, Pao is the interim chief executive of Reddit. She filed this suit against her former firm in 2012, but the trial kicked off just last month. Pao is accusing her former firm of “allowing her to be sexually harassed by male managers, of punishing and eventually firing her when she complained, and of excluding her and other women from business meetings, dinners and promotions.” She is seeking $16 million for lost wages and potential future earnings.

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