Starbucks Coffee announced Sunday that it will stop making its baristas engage customers in uncomfortable conversations about race, concluding a strange experiment that no one but the company's CEO seemed to like.
"CEO Howard Schultz ended the effort Sunday, after days of pushback against the company's initiative to start a conversation about race within its more than 20,000 stores ... the scribbling of a somewhat-ambiguous message on lattes has been quickly phased out," the Washington Post reported.
"Starbucks has ended the first phase of its Race Together initiative almost as soon as it began, CEO Howard Schultz announced in a letter, after it was deluged with criticism over the last several days," said Newsweek.
This phase of the effort — writing "Race Together" (or placing stickers) on cups, which was always just the catalyst for a much broader and longer term conversation — will be completed as originally planned today, March 22.
The #racetogether cups didn't stop because Starbucks listened to the overwhelming popular sentiment that this is a bad, awkward and self-serving way to address America's problems around race. In fact, USA Today's Starbucks-sponsored Race Together sections and Starbucks' employee forums about race will continue, although no one will pay attention.
This strange chapter in seeing what a very rich man can get his employees (sorry, respected partners) and customers to put up with was never meant to last longer than one media cycle.
Starbucks seems to be getting undue credit for responding to customer feedback (it didn't), and not enough credit for imagining that this was not just a good idea, but such a good idea that it could actually accomplish its goals in a week.