Starbucks BLM T Shirt Reversing course just two days after news reports sparked a social media backlash, Starbucks says it will now allow employees to wear T-shirts and accessories in support of Black Lives Matter.
“We see you. We hear you. Black Lives Matter. That is a fact and will never change,” the company said in a letter posted Friday. “This movement is a catalyst for change, and right now, it’s telling us a lot of things need to be addressed so we can make space to heal.”
Earlier this week, and first reported by BuzzFeed, the company turned down a request from baristas and other employees who wanted to show their support for the BLM movement. In a memo to its 250,000-member workforce, diversity officer Zing Shaw said, “There are agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles of the Black Lives Matter movement — and in certain circumstances, intentionally repurpose them to amplify divisiveness.”
The decision sparked backlash on social media, including calls to boycott the company, and came just days after Starbucks had issued a “Black Lives Matter” statement of solidarity and committed $1 million to racial justice groups as protests broke out across the country following the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody.
On Friday, in a posting signed by Shaw, chief operating officer Roz Brewer and executive vice president Rossann Williams, the company said it is producing T-shirts with “Black Lives Matter” and other slogans for staff in the United States and Canada to “demonstrate our allyship and show we stand together in unity.” Employees, Starbucks shirt which the company refers to as “partners,” will have the option to wear them while working.
A company spokeswoman declined to say what exactly prompted the reversal — whether it was two days of social media calls for boycotts against the coffee chain or the current unrest in Seattle, the company’s home base and where protests have led to an activist takeover of a four-block, police-free autonomous zone.