Ugh, Starbucks, really? You’re going to try to tackle actual serious societal problems again, now in Ferguson, Missouri, no less? Okay, fine, how are you falling on your face this time? Wait … Starbucks’ plan is actually well-thought-out and appears to be doing actual good? Well that was unexpected.
We’ve all had fun laughing at Starbucks’s social-justice-related pratfalls in the past. This is particularly true when it comes to race relations; remember the time they wanted to awkwardly dragoon their baristas into uncomfortable conversations about racism? That was fun! Their new plan to open a store in Ferguson, however, actually appears to be doing some good. It would seem the 15th time is the charm for Starbucks.
You may remember Ferguson from the time the police there attempted to tear gas the entire population of the town for the grave offense of Existing While Black. If you don’t remember, quick recap: a dickhead white police officer named Darren Wilson killed a black kid named Michael Brown (who may or may not have been charging at him, depending on whose version of events you believe). People protested, then said tear gassing took place, then we found out that — SURPRISE! — the entire civic government of Ferguson was controlled and operated by blindingly racist asshats. The whole episode led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement and ripped the scab off the diseased wound that is America’s systemic, long-standing tradition of disproportionate police violence and brutality towards minorities (particularly African-Americans and Latinos). It was bad.
This is where Starbucks comes in. Last year, Starbucks pledged to put a new location in Ferguson. Everyone laughed, of course, because did you see what else has happened when Starbucks tried to be helpful? They were basically the corporate equivalent of your one aunt who always tries to clean up your house when she comes over, and NO, AUNT CAROL, PLEASE STOP PUTTING MY XBOX IN THE SHOWER, I DON’T CARE IF IT “RUINS THE CHI FLOW” IN THE LIVING ROOM.
But instead of charging in like a well-meaning bull in a china shop, Starbucks actually appears to have put some thought into this: they hired an almost-entirely local staff including a store manager with strong ties to the area (paying specific note to encouraging diversity as much as possible), they’re selling locally produced baked goods from Natalie’s Cakes and More, deliberately hired a minority-owned local contractor to build the place, and made sure the building includes a conference room they plan to lend out to non-profits like the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, which will use it for job-training programs. All in all, while Starbucks is frequently worthy of mockery, it’s tough to see how they could’ve been more thoughtful about this particular plan.
And that’s good news for them, since they are also currently facing another lawsuit that makes us laugh so hard we spray iced chai all over our keyboards. The last lawsuit, which as far as we’re aware is still ongoing, was over the company allegedly underfilling its lattes. A customer named Stacy Pincus apparently saw this and wanted in on that hot legal action, so she’s suing the company for overusing ice in its iced drinks. Pincus is seeking class action status for the suit.
While this is possibly the dumbest lawsuit we’ve ever seen, it did lead to this deliciously salty response from a Starbucks PR representative:
“Our customers understand and expect that ice is an essential component of any ‘iced’ beverage,” Jaime Riley said in a statement. “If a customer is not satisfied with their beverage preparation, we will gladly remake it.”
Sure, this may be a frivolous lawsuit dragging on the already-overburned American legal system, but we think it’s worth it if it resulted in a Starbucks spokesperson essentially letting loose a more polite version of, “iced drinks have ice in them, dumbass.”