Rapper Common will help lead the training session, which will explore employees' personal biases. 

Elisabeth Sherman
May 24, 2018

In the wake of an incident last month during which two black men were arrested inside at Starbucks in Philadelphia after the manager called the police, the company announced that it would be closing 8,000 of its stores to conduct racial-bias training for all its employees. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued an apology, and the company changed its customer policy to allow anyone to use the chain’s bathrooms, even if they’re not buying coffee. Today, Starbucks also released a preview of the curriculum it will be using during the training session on May 29.

According to a short video released by the company, the training will address the personal biases that every employee—even the most well-intentioned among them—will bring to the job (during the preview, employees mention dealing with homeless patrons and confronting drug users in the bathrooms).

Led by guides, including the rapper Common as well as Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, employees will learn about the history of racial discrimination, in particular against African-American people in public spaces, starting with the Civil Rights Movement.

During the training, employees will also be a shown a documentary directed by Stanely Nelson, which will help illuminate the experiences of black people in this country—including the extra steps (such as making direct eye contact, or saying ‘thank you’) that they often take to protect themselves from the suspicions of people in power. 

Employees will also be given a notebook in which they will explore the similarities and differences between themselves and Starbucks customers, in the hopes of learning to celebrate, appreciate, and understand “what makes me, me, and you, you.”

The company insists that this is all part of a longer-term effort, which will include future anti-bias trainings, to once again prove that Starbucks can be “a welcoming and safe [place] for everyone.”