Starbucks encourages dialogue about race

U.S. workers for the coffee chain are writing "Race Together" on cups. The company also plans to start publishing "conversation guides" on the topic, with

U.S. workers for the coffee chain are writing

U.S. workers for the coffee chain are writing "Race Together" on cups. The company also plans to start publishing "conversation guides" on the topic, with questions such as "How have your racial views evolved from those of your parents?" (3/18/15)

BROOKLYN - Social media has been buzzing about Starbucks' push to get people to talk about race relations. Some customers support Starbucks' campaign, but others say all they want from Starbucks is coffee.

U.S. workers for the coffee chain are writing "Race Together" on cups. The company also plans to start publishing "conversation guides" on the topic, with questions such as "How have your racial views evolved from those of your parents?"

Some customers aren't on board with the idea. Jonathan Y. posted the following on News 12's Facebook page: "Just stick to selling coffee!" Another viewer posted "What if the barista doesn't like what you're saying? Besides screwing up the order, now you'd have to worry about them spitting in it … No thanks!"

But News 12 viewer Robert H. backs the move, saying that he doesn't mind speaking with his barista about news stories such as the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Starbucks, which announced the campaign earlier this week, says it will elaborate on the plans for its campaign at its annual shareholder meeting in Seattle.

Inserting itself into national issues isn't new territory for Starbucks. In late 2012, the chain asked workers to write "Come Together" on cups to send a message to lawmakers about stalled budget negotiations.

In 2013, Starbucks placed newspaper ads saying that firearms weren't welcome in its cafes after some cafes became the site of gun rallies; the company stopped short of an outright ban, though.

CEO Howard Schultz said at the time that Starbucks was neither for nor against guns, underscoring that even a company that wants a voice in national conversations has to be careful about alienating customers.

Laura Ries, a branding consultant based in Atlanta, says that addressing important issues of the day has become a way for companies to make themselves a part of the conversation. Otherwise, nobody is sitting around on Twitter discussing brands, she says.

AP contributed to this story.

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