Tuesday, March 24

Starbucks Cups & Equality

It seems everyone has something to say about Starbucks mid March campaign to encourage equality through conversations, in an initiative they've called: “Race Together.” Encouraging baristas to start conversations on race, and asking that along with the customers name, "Race Together" get written on their cup.

I too have an opinion, and its partly that we all have an opinion! We all want to have a say, we all want to speak up, get heard, and let people know what is on our minds. Social media has changed the way we see ourselves as no longer being voiceless. Now you can make a comment on twitter and end up going a totally different direction in life. Social Media IS changing the world, and I can’t say that’s necessarily a good thing, but its defo something we can’t prevent.

With everyone having a say, and expecting to be heard, we are more individual than ever. People who had no desire to stand up and say anything 10 years ago now insist on a platform. So guess what? The likelihood of us all agreeing is smaller than ever, because we are more diverse than we ever knew we would be.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz addressed this in discussions across the united states in meetings with Starbucks partners (employees) and heard again and again that empathy in diversity can bridge the gap between unconscious bias people everywhere face through differences. USA TODAY and Starbucks created the campaign saying: “Race Together is not a solution, but it is an opportunity to begin to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society—one conversation at a time.”

Well, no good deed goes unpunished, especially not with Social Media. Everyone has something to say about the campaign, and some people love to be bitchy and rude at every opportunity.

Anyway, to try and get to my point… I spend way too much time in my local Starbucks, I know the people who work there, I know the customers, and I know the diversity of people who come into the store. What I see is that my Starbucks fosters friendliness, happiness, diversity, and for the most part everyone is treated “equal”. I cringe to say that because everyone is so different, they do in fact need unequal treatment. An elderly person needs a louder voice without a tone that sounds condescending. A 14 year old girl who doesn’t know how to order her pink frappachino needs patience and kindness so that she will have a good experience and will want to come back bringing her friends. Everyone CAN’T be treated the same, and yet, the goal is to make sure everyone has a good experience. The equality is the element of feeling they were respected and treated right.

Conversations on diversity are necessary, I’ve heard young individuals working at Starbucks say ignorant things about race, but without conversations, the young and ignorant stay ignorant whether they are in a Starbucks location or not.

It is already evident that Starbucks encourages diversity because you meet unique individuals working at every Starbucks you visit. If people have an issue talking about diversity, not wanting to address it directly, maybe we all have to be more open-eyed to the fact everybody is different. Would Starbucks and USA Today come together in a desire to help bridge these social barriers if people everywhere were cool with the fact that no two people are the same?

One of the guys who works at my Starbucks will readily admit that he works there because of the respect he has for the CEO Howard Schultz. If you do any reading of the man, his book or what others have said about him, you will see his intentions are genuine, his heart is in the right place, and he lives with integrity. To attack him and his genuine love of the people who work for him and buy coffee in his shops, is to directly say, “Screw you and your ideas about positive change.”

If I’m totally honest, where equality is most strained from where I stand, its in the fact it’s tough to be nice to rude people. So ya, they probably don’t get perfectly equal treatment. I witnessed a barista ask a woman for her name to write it on the cup, to which the woman sourly replied:
“You don’t need my name, I’m the only one here!”
Without skipping a beat, not hearing the rude tone of voice, the barista said:
“Ok, I’ll just put a smiley face on it in case someone comes in right behind you, then their name will be on their cup, and yours will be a smile.”

The witness in me wanted that woman to NOT be treated with equality. I wanted the barista to use the same sour face and tone back. And yet, what the barista did was show equality. When a person is rude, their skin color disappears, their age is not a factor, what really matters is their lack of respect. People let skin color and other shallow excuses be why they choose to be rude. It is in turn that the rudeness creates a lack of respect, fostering inequality.

Howard Schultz is right--something needs to change. Maybe asking the baristas to start conversations on race is not the best way, but being a rude to a barista or customer isn’t an answer either. It makes it hard to be seen as an equal, and equality falters through being a jerk.

And really, at the heart of the campaign is love and respect for our fellow Humans. Those who work in coffee shops do it because of the diversity. You could argue that is the point of going to get a hand crafted beverage… to get a drink unique to you.

Ya, it’s only coffee, but if you love coffee, to get coffee and a smile, or coffee and a laugh, means you are most likely being respected or enjoyed, and that right there is what breeds equality. 

Wednesday, March 11

Could I Care LESS?

Something occurred to me recently as I was dealing with being upset over something that I didn’t want to be upset about. I realized I’d been here before.

In my frustration and upset I was asking myself what could I have done differently, what could have unfolded differently, not upsetting me in the first place, and was the upset entirely my own doing in the end because I was the one upset?  I already know that each of us choose how we see and feel in situations, we CAN choose NOT to be upset, and I clearly didn’t do that.

This choice is something I can do half of the time, and can’t do half of the time. What I’ve noticed is my ability to CHOOSE to not be upset has everything to do with how much I care about the general situation.  My level of upset is directly related to my level of caring.

That night I went to bed bugged. As I sometimes do, I said to myself, I just need to have less interaction with people. More introvert hours would help me. Then when I woke in the morning I had the thought. I would get less upset if I could care LESS about this particular thing. Having that thought reminded me of the other times in my life I have found myself wishing I didn’t care about someone or something so much and acknowledging that if I could just care less I would be better, I would be happier, the “thing” wouldn’t be so upsetting if I didn’t really care.

With that thought in my mind, another day went by and I realized that in the past I haven’t been able to CHOOSE caring less, it has been forced upon me to care less. And how that happens is over time, being shown again and again that caring equals upset, until one day, bam! I finally see it as never going to change. It/they will always be upsetting to me, and when that realization hits, the caring less happens.

I wish I felt like this was an optimistic thought to be sharing. I’m really only sharing because I finally realized that this has been how my mind has worked for a few years, and despite being the one having these feelings, I am only now putting words to them and "getting it" fully.

I see this is how marriages fail. This is how jobs end. This is how friendships fall apart. It happens because we all have a limit in regard to any given thing. And when the caring has finally been used or abused for too long, something breaks; you suddenly don’t hesitate to care LESS.

What’s slightly upsetting about this caring less is that it’s not within my control like the choosing to not be upset. I can choose to not get upset, but if the event, or the person continues in the same manner as always, it doesn’t necessarily matter that I stopped getting upset, they/it is still wearing me down and taking me to my limit, until one day, there it is. I care less.