With the upcoming racial awareness meetings scheduled to take place at all of the Starbucks locations on May 29th, the question arises as to whether this approach will be effective longterm and if so should it be incorporated into other corporations as a regular on the job training for their employees.
James Jean-Lewis, 30, Photographer and resident of Hillside, NY who was seated in his local Starbucks close to home at the time says that he is not necessarily a regular of the franchise but does go from time to time for the tranquil environment that it offers so that he can work on his craft.
“I really do not think that boycotting Starbucks is the answer. I do not think what happened at that particular location is a reflection of Starbucks as a brand. Since it is a private-owned company, boycotting each individual one won’t really make an impact. It might actually just cause a disservice to individuals in the community that work there and you do not want those honest everyday worker’s job to be on the line who have nothing to do with that situation,” says James Jean-Lewis.
In reference to the video showing the two black men being arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks location, he expressed a unique take on the situation while relating it to his own everyday experience.
“The fact that Starbucks Companies’ has made an effort to address this issue says a lot and it should not just stop with this particular company, ” says Jean-Lewis. “There have been plenty of times where I was entering an establishment, sitting on the train, or just simply walking down the street and white people will give me the funny looks or overall just get uncomfortable by my presence and it’s just sad.”
The Starbucks incident with the two black men taken away in handcuffs was followed by a slew of other similar situations. There has been a very prevalent pattern of viral videos posted on media platforms such as NowThis and Facebook where restaurants, in particular, have been exposed for negative encounters that appeared to be racially fueled.
Jean-Lewis says he advocates for boycotting when necessary and strategically thought out. Moreover, he feels that decreasing spending in food chains and places that will hurt the big business owners directly will cause more of a lasting response and ultimate solution. He adds that as a community we should be more determined and unified in our demands for social change.
“If we are going to really make a difference, then we have to be consistent. There should not only be outrage when these things happen and then eventually we lose interest. There has to be more support for our own community and making a conscious effort to effect change,” Jean-Lewis says.