I picked up my 12-year-old daughter from school on Monday and asked her where she wanted to go for a post-school treat.
We do that occasionally as it gives me a few additional minutes to spend with her during hectic workweeks.
The time I gain with her, even in short bursts, always is a treat for me. She mulled over the question for a moment and replied Starbucks.
She does not drink coffee but usually gets a flavored steamed milk drink and a baked good.
I hesitated and then explained to her about the two African-American men in Philadelphia who were arrested for sitting at a Starbucks.
I explained that they did not do anything wrong. That they were merely waiting to meet someone and that for some reason, the Starbucks manager called police and had them arrested. Police took them away, even after the person the two men were waiting for arrived. I believe he was buying the coffee.
I thought of the last time I was in Starbucks and saw people, most likely students, hunkered down with laptops and cellphones, clicking away. Some had no drink in sight.
A Starbucks official described the stores as “community” hubs where people often drop in to use the Wi-Fi or chat with friends without necessarily buying anything.
When you have a self-described atmosphere that invites lounging and hanging out, you obviously get people who lounge and hang out and don’t buy anything.
You get people of all ethnicities. Some who are white, others who are African-American, Asian, Latino or Native American.
And I would have been less surprised if this happened in Nowhere, Cackalacky, where they supposedly are less enlightened than those in Center City Philadelphia.
I would not have been surprised at all if this had happened to someone disruptive or unkempt, (code word for homeless). But, of course, the ejection of someone in those categories would not have garnered attention.
Yet, this is the world we live in.
A world where people would say we are too focused on race, that all lives matter, that we should stop talking about race.
But incidents such as this one at Starbucks, or the shooting of Stephon Clark in Sacramento, or even the unemployment of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick show that we cannot.
Particularly in these politically charged and divisive times.
This is not to condemn Starbucks.
I do not recall ever being mistreated in one. I can imagine the face palm Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson did when he learned about the incident.
Just one public misstep puts the company’s reputation at risk.
For his part, Johnson has called the incident “reprehensible” and publicly apologized. He met with the two men in Philadelphia on Tuesday and apologized again in private, according to reports. The company also plans to implement additional training and will close all of its 8,000 company-owned stores nationwide on the afternoon of May 29 for racial-bias training. That training also will become part of its new-hire process.
Philadelphia officials also are reviewing the incident.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney met with Starbucks executives Monday.
“All parties agree that the outcome of this incident was extremely unfortunate and that’s why we are reviewing the incident seriously,” he said.
I don’t know if it is appropriate to call my actions a boycott of Starbucks. As I said before, I never have been mistreated at one. But I am angry and disappointed at the company. And I will be for a while.
From a coffee perspective, it’s easier when you have choices, such as Empresso Coffeehouse, Trail Coffee Roasters and Peet’s Coffee.
On Monday, my daughter and I ended up at Baskin-Robbins. And she was quite happy with a chocolate chip and cookie dough ice cream cone.
Contact Editor Donald W. Blount at (209) 546-8251 or email@example.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/editorblog and on Twitter @donblount.