Sure, Starbucks may have become the butt of many a joke within the national media, some more belatedly than others, after the seeming boondoggle that was the company’s #RaceTogether campaign. But, according to a new statement released by the Seattle coffee giant, the campaign may have done more for progress in race relations than the cynical would be willing to admit was possible.
According to Michael Hfuhruhurr, Starbuck’s newly appointed spokesperson for Race Together, “several of our branches, nationwide, have reported a bracing and successful week of discussions about race.” When asked to provide the locations of these branches, Hfuhruhurr listed places like Colorado Springs, CO; Gary, IN; Grangeville, ID; Bend, OR and Provo, UT. The list was met with mild derision, but Hfuhruhurr insisted that there were branches in bigger cities had numerous successful discussions about race and went on to mention the testimony provided by Beatrice Blankenship of Seattle.
“These are never easy discussions to have…but after talking things over with [the Starbucks barista], I feel that maybe, if everybody on both sides tried to listen to the other person, just maybe we can come to some kind of understanding.” Mrs. Beatrice Blankenship
“It’s easy to be wary,” Hfuhruhurr continued, “and to make fun of earnest movements like #RaceTogether. There were some funny things said and done immediately after the announcment, we bore the brunt of all the jokes.” However, as Hfuhruhurr went on to explain, the company would also like to have it acknowledged that some good actually came about from the experiment.
Noting the lack of demographic information attached to Mrs. Blankenship’s statement, we asked Starbucks for further information. In return, we received a couple of unsorted boxes containing the original positive emails and testimonials written on Starbucks feedback submission forms from branches across the US. We were able to track down the original statement by Mrs. Blankenship, and it was wisely, if cynically, rewritten for the press. While we are still dubious about Starbucks’ claim for success with #RaceTogether — and this obfuscation does not help — we can at least commend the company for not simply destroying the evidence.
The first sentence in Mrs. Blankenship’s statement actually reads, “These are never easy discussions to have with those coloreds, they are so tetchy.” Instead of the name of the barista, Mrs. Blankenship wrote, “that girl in your store.” These alterations made us even more curious about Mrs. Blankenship, so we went looking for more.
We found her in the White Pages. Mrs. Beatrice Blankenship, née Schmeckpepple, is 87 years old and resides in the tony Broadmoor neighborhood. A delightful human being in many respects, she recalled the conversation vividly. “We only talked for a couple of minutes while the girl made the coffee.” Did they come to agree to anything? “Oh yeah! Things would be a lot better if those negroes weren’t so touchy about their place in our country.”
Which Starbucks branch did she visit? “The one in Madison Park, of course.” And the name of the barista?
“Sarah, I think. Or maybe Courtney.”
At press time, neither Sarah nor Courtney could be reached for comment.