After two African American men were arrested while waiting for a friend at a Philadelphia Starbucks last week, the company announced today that it will close over over 8,000 U.S. stores on May 29 to conduct racial bias training for about 175,000 employees.
The arrests sparked a national conversation on discrimination, racial bias, and policing black bodies. In response, Starbucks CEO Kevin R. Johnson issued an apology Saturday and visited Philadelphia over the weekend.
“Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities,” said Johnson.
The conversation is far from over, but it’s encouraging to see a corporation of its size respond with sweeping action. The nationwide closure reflects an understanding that racial bias isn’t solely a problem in Philadelphia, but a problem in America.