Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is testing the waters for a possible presidential run in 2020, stumbled on a softball question about race that made many people wonder whether the only color he sees is green. Schultz has an estimated net worth of $3.5 billion. The nation has already seen how a billionaire runs the country.
During a CNN town hall meeting on Tuesday, Schultz set off a Twitter firestorm with his answer to a question from the audience about the infamous 2018 racial profiling incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks. A white employee called the police on two African-American men who were doing nothing wrong yet ended up arrested.
“As somebody who grew up in a very diverse background as a young boy in the projects, I didn’t see color as a young boy and I honestly don’t see color now,” Schultz said.
Scores of Black folks took to social media to tell Schultz that they weren’t buying his tired claim of color blindness.
“PLEASE stop saying ‘I don’t see color’ as a means of proving you’re not racist. The failure to recognize racial difference keeps whiteness positioned as the norm and reinforces racism. It sends the message that you can only see my humanity because you can’t see my blackness,” Marc Lamont Hill, a Temple University professor and political commentator, tweeted.
Here are some more responses:
In May 2018, about 8,000 Starbucks stores closed to conduct the symbolic move of training their employees not to call police on Black people sitting at one of the many coffee shops that can be found pretty much anywhere across the country.
In case anybody forgot, the unforgettable move came in response to the egregious case of racial profiling when a white employee called police on two Black men for being alive on the premises. The entire episode was recorded on a video that went viral. Protests and boycotts ensued, forcing Schultz to make a number of symbolic gestures toward the peaceful victims, including offering a quick formal apology, something that is typically unheard of in the seemingly millions of similar cases that have happened before as well as after the Starbucks fiasco.