Caffeine Shots and Racial Sensitivity Training

‘beverage bias’, ‘frappuccino shaming’, ‘why do white people care so much about black people’s hair’, ‘why do these people hate me so much?’

If you have 20 minutes of sitting in a waiting room, have a listen to this podcast on Starbuck’s racial sensitivity training in all its stores across the US last week. It’s an interesting concept.

My experience at a number of companies is that unless there is honest commitment from bosses – and it’s interesting that the Starbucks boss who pushed this idea, Howard Schultz, resigned immediately after the national stoppage for sensitivity training – these types of initiatives don’t go anywhere further than a eureka moment for perhaps one individual with a good heart who was stuck in the dark ages somewhere.

Having been part of workshops, I know that those who’ve been on the receiving end of bias will mutter about how they’ve seen it all before. Those who haven’t will be clueless about the deep hurt & anger felt by the other.

But I’m thinking: what would a real, honest but purposeful conversation in South Africa about race look and sound like?

What are we all doing in our respective corners to change the way our loved ones, friends, colleagues, bosses, clients, suppliers, strangers, see people of another race or colour or nationality?

Do we have the courage, the real courage to talk about our perceptions, how we feel about race, real race? Or will we simply resort to our boxes, the fake versions of ideas about race that we’ve inherited, that have been imposed on us, that we live every day?

I know you’ll be shit scared to comment because someone might jump on you – you’ve been there, right? Maybe comment on my blog post – it’s my safe space after all.


Caffeine Shots and Racial Sensitivity Training
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