Last year, Starbucks began a “Race Together” campaign. It lasted about as long as the infamous pumpkin spice season that gets the Starbucks usuals, and visitors, excited about the fall. If you didn’t hear about it, the highlights are that a Starbucks’ exec was troubled by the racial unrest and injustice taking place due to the officer-involved shootings/deaths of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida; Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York City; Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina; Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; John Crawford, III in Beavercreek, Ohio and Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio. #Saytheirnames He began conversations at Starbucks headquarters and invigorated a town hall meeting where employees could discuss their thoughts and opinions about race. This lead to forums across major cities and baristas writing “Race Together” on cups to spark awareness and conversations amongst Starbucks’ customers. The American coffee chain also ran full page ads in USA Today and New York Times to support the initiative. It was an attempt to build a more inclusive and aware society. All in all, it was a good effort. However, roughly three months later, Starbucks ended the Race Together campaign.
While Starbucks received both kudos and praise for the campaign, we should be past giving kudos to companies for talking about race. Maybe it’s because we’ve been black women our entire lives – or maybe it’s because we work in an industry where legal employers often tout their commitment to diversity as a badge of honor, but rarely have the records, statistics or growth to support the self-proclaimed “commitment.” Maybe it’s because we’re still at the place where a Supreme Court Justice, one who sits on the highest court in the land, still sees race as a barrier to greatness, and we’re forced to constantly fight to be considered equal and have access to the American Dream, despite the numerous studies that discuss the value that a diverse workplace brings to companies’ bottom lines. The thing about race is that it doesn’t go away. It is one of the few attributes that most people cannot hide. When people see us in person, they never have to question whether we are minorities. We cannot choose to be minorities for just a short season, and our race does not come into style once a year like the pumpkin spice latte.
So diverse attorneys and professionals need a place. A place to vent about experiences in corporate America. A place to gain tips and survival skills to make it through the next assignment, meeting or project where people undervalue your ability to substantively contribute to the team or just don’t understand the diverse perspective you bring to the table.
We’re Uncolorblind. We embrace diversity because that’s the only way to see it and achieve it. We live our truths and offer solutions to the diversity dilemmas that come up every, single day. Buckle up and SUBSCRIBE. We cannot promise that we will always agree or have the popular opinion. But we can promise to always be diversity advocates, to lend an ear when you have nowhere else to turn and to continue to take steps to achieve cultural tolerance and understanding for longer than pumpkin spice season.