W. Kamau Bell Profile picture
Apr 14, 2018 18 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
As a Black man who was kicked out of a coffee shop in 2015 (not Starbucks but The Elmwood Cafe in Berkeley, CA) I have some thoughts. When I was kicked out, I was nervous they might call the cops. But they didn't. Probably because I was with my wife & her white skin. 1/
(If you don't know the story of my getting kicked out of The Elmwood Cafe in Berkeley California, I told the story on @ThisAmerLife a couple months later. You can listen here.) But here I sit 3 years later & NOTHING has changed... 1/2 thisamericanlife.org/557/birds-bees…
After it happened, me, the owner & some activists had a community meeting. The owner promised to end implicit bias in his cafe, the stores on his block, the neighborhood, the city then I guess the galaxy. Here's the website he built for it laying fallow. implicitbiastraining.com
At the community forum he even announced that me & he were doing this Implicit Bias Training together. I looked over at him like, "We are???" Then the local media understandably covered it that way. Even my favorite local news site @berkeleyside. berkeleyside.com/2015/03/16/at-…
We didn't tell our 2 kids the story at the time. (The 13 week old wouldn't have cared.) But recently I was w/ my now 6 y/o, walking past the cafe to the library. I made eye contact w/ the Elmwood manager. The manager slightly smiled. I decided it was time to tell the 6 y/o.
I slowly told my 6 y/o the story of how The Elmwood Cafe, the cafe we were passing currently, had kicked me out, even though I wasn't doing anything wrong. I told her how Mama & her sister were there. She scrunched up her face like she does, like I do, & said, "But why?"
I said, "I think it was because they they thought because I was a Black person that I was bothering Mama & her friends, even though I was just talking to them. I said "I think it was racism." She said what I believe, "BUT THAT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE!" I said, "Yeah. I know."
As we walked we ran into a couple people I knew. My 6 y/o just said over & over, "That doesn't make any sense!" She is never rude. She is always polite, but she couldn't help but interrupt my conversations, because...

*clears throat*

Whenever we pass The Elmwood Cafe, my 6 y/o mean mugs it & says, "That's a bad place!" & me & my wife beam w/ pride. Because we know we've taught her you can't let that shit slide. & also it's awful, because we know eventually she will deal w/ much worse than coffee shop racism.
So we haven't been back to The Elmwood Cafe since, which sucks for my wife because she loved it. We even have a beautiful picture of my 6 y/o eating there when she was 3. But no more. It's "A Bad Place". s/o to @nbcthegoodplace for helping me find humor in this title.
So when I read about these 2 Black men who were kicked out of Starbucks for being Black, I 100% believe them & stand w/ them. I remember how The owner of The Elmwood told me that he didn't train his employees to be racist. But he didn't have to. You have to un-train people.
I'm sure Starbucks manual says, "DON'T BE RACIST!" all over it. It has to. It's a major corporation. But I'm guessing it doesn't tell its employees HOW NOT TO BE RACIST. & I'm betting that they don't have regular "Don't be racist/sexist/homophobic/ableist/transphobic" workshops.
But Starbucks can change things. They're 1 of the biggest & most popular companies worldwide. They may not wanna change things but that's where we all come in. The Elmwood Cafe may be lost. But Starbucks has too much on the line to let this go. #AndThisTimeDontJustWriteOnTheCups
& even though ppl are encouraging ppl to support local coffee shops, check to make sure they aren't assholes 1st. Elmwood Cafe apparently does a lot of social justice work in Africa, but that doesn't erase the racism of Berkeley. & I've heard from ppl that have seen racism there.
So I don't know about #BoycottStarbucks. I'll check w/ my activists. But support your local cool coffee shops either way. Mine are Aucoquelet, Espresso Roma, & Sack's. & @Calabashtea in DC. Here's a list of Black owned ones. shoppeblack.us/2018/04/black-…
Also... 👇🏿
Thread broke. Here's the rest.
Last thing. Firing the employees doesn't do anything. It makes the employees scapegoats & let's the company off the hook. The Elmwood Cafe fired 2 people & that solved NOTHING! This isn't the employees fault. Racism is deep within ALL of America's structures & institutions. END!

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