Oh, my fellow liberal white people. Let’s be honest.
We’re not protesting Starbucks because they have racist employees. We’re protesting them because they got caught.
They had racist employees last week, last month, last year. We didn’t protest them then.
And they’re not alone. Just about every business we walk into has some racist employees. We don’t notice because we’re white. We don’t care. It doesn’t affect us, so we can turn a blind eye.
Our black acquaintances have told us about the clerks in the stores that follow them, like they’ve already shoplifted, and we shrug it off until we see the video.
Our black acquaintances tell us about the time they spent an extra twenty minutes waiting for a table while three other groups, white groups, got in ahead of them. We shake our heads and cluck and say we believe them, but we don’t really.
Our black acquaintances tell us about the job interviews they lost out on, or the way the police side-eye them when they walk down the street, or the way that white people make a pile of assumptions about them every single day, and we nod, but in our bones (the same color bones), we question them.
We think to ourselves: Pics or it didn’t happen.
Prove it. Stop playing the Race Card. We had a black President. Racism in this country is isolated to country boys with Virginia Battle Flags and a handful of cases here and there. You’re imagining things.
We don’t say that out loud, of course. That would be racist. We need to support our black brothers and sisters. We’re good allies.
So we just think it: Pics or it didn’t happen.
We don’t know what happened before the video footage started.
Certainly, at Starbucks, those two black men were asked to leave, and then they must have knocked over a display and cussed like black men do. They were sitting quietly not because they were civilized, but because they were tired from their hedonistic, savage, African-Wakandan rampage.
Certainly, Officer Darren Wilson simply asked Michael Brown and his friend to move to the sidewalk, and Brown went crazy. Tried to punch Wilson. Tried to take his gun. Look at how big Brown was! He was a raging bull!
Certainly, Trayvon Martin jumped Zimmerman. Sure, maybe Zimmerman shouldn’t have been stalking him, but after all, Martin attacked him. He deserved it!
When a white teacher recently pulled a black seven-year-old boy off a bus by his ankle, I saw another white teacher defend it: It’s not about race! I work in this district! This is how all students are treated. “It’s how the children are raised,” says the white voice. “It’s the fault of the parents.”
Over and over and over. Even with pictures. Even with videos. There’s always a back story that we white folks fill in to justify the treatment.
We throw money, hand over fist, at T’Challa, the Black Panther. But when we see a Black American Man, we see the pocked flesh of Erik Killmonger.
We count the bumps on his chest as if they’re each kill he’s made, not realizing that they’re really a bullet hole for each of his brothers that WE’VE allowed to be shot down.
Starbucks is us. We are them. We ask them to cover their black coffee in white cream, because the beauty that the baristas infuse is in the roses that they make from that white, white froth.
We are post-racial. We are color blind. We are white liberals.
We try to convince ourselves that racism is dead, and that we have killed it. And then there’s this video, this reckless video, this feckless video, that shows that even in one of our liberal havens there are racists.
The betrayal of Starbucks is not in its racism, but in allowing it to be so obvious, so undeniable. The betrayal is in the way the white people just watched: Some of them outraged, others annoyed, but none of them willing to step forward until the white friend of the two black men prods them out of their stupor.
Our White Indifference is on full display, and it is the fault of Starbucks. So if we get angry at them, if we pound tables and clutch pearls and point fingers, maybe we could convince our black acquaintances that we really, truly mean it.
And so, instead of shouting from the rooftops that we, all of us white people, are responsible, that we, all of us white people, need to take every single racist act, every single microaggression, to task… we protest a single coffee shop in an easily targeted corporation.
This ends today.
When a black man said that, he got choked to death. So I’ll say it again, for every black person who fears the same fate:
This ends today.
Don’t boycott Starbucks. Boycott racism. Everywhere. Every day. Every time. Because:
This ends today.
Photo credit: Getty Images