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May 30 2018

Roseanne Barr's Explicit Bias

by Charlotte Hays

Roseanne Barr's very lucrative show has been cancelled after she tweeted a sick attack on former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett's appearance.

Here is Barr's tweet:

"Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj."

It's the kind of thing that knocks your breath out.

You know instantly that this is the kind of tweet even a star would have trouble surviving--and that is as it should be. Ms. Barr is apparently blaming sleeping medication. 

What I want to add about ABC's instant firing of Barr is that racist remarks aren't tolerated.

This brings me to yesterday's Starbucks implicit bias training.

Starbucks closed 800 outlets yesterday and gave implicit bias training to 175,000 employees.

This was triggered by an ugly incident in which two men, waiting for friends, refused to leave Starbucks or purchase something. Police were called and the men were handcuffed and taken away. The men were black.

Anyone with good sense knows that this shouldn't have happened. Starbucks apologized profusely and reached a private financial settlement with the two men. This was, as a protest sign put it: Too Little, Too Latte.

I can imagine that some customer service training was in order after this incident.

But there are two problems with implicit bias training: one, as Patrice pointed out, is that it doesn't work. A Harvard study indicates that people who undergo such training don't long retain the lessons, are confused and sometimes even rebel.

The second reason is that implicit bias training assumes that we live in a racist society. It is tied to the concept of micro-aggressions: we all have implicit biases that make us racists.

This training is not based on how we explicitly and outwardly behave to each other. Decent and polite behavior towards others is essential to society. This is explicit, and every employer wants to ensure that employees treat others with the utmost dignity.

But Starbucks is focusing on what it calls "implicit" bias.

Instead of asking people to be decent to one another, implicit bias training starts from a notion of deep and dark psychological faults that must be addressed in expensive training sessions.

If you have implicit bias, which I hope you don't, it is a matter better addressed with your shrink or clergyperson.

Starbucks sessions apparently didn't focus on how we treat one another but on the assumption of dark racist urges in our psyches. Here is a description from the New York Times of the implicit bias training:

Mr. Schultz and Mr. Johnson [Starbucks top executives] decided they needed to do more than apologize. Starbucks devised the training program with input from an assortment of leaders: Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (and a cousin of Gwen’s); Heather C. McGhee, president of the public policy organization Demos; and former Attorney General Eric H. Holder, among others. Starbucks’ initiative could take a small but noticeable bite out of the company’s fiscal third-quarter profit, which last year came in at just over $1 billion.

The seminars will involve groups of about four employees being guided by an interactive iPad workbook, featuring videos from Mr. Johnson, Mr. Schultz and the rapper Common. Staff will also watch a documentary short by Stanley Nelson Jr., the Emmy-winning filmmaker. A series of conversation-starters are included in separate worksheets.

Starbucks also changed its policy, announcing that “any customer is welcome to use Starbucks spaces, including our restrooms, cafes and patios, regardless of whether they make a purchase.”

Mr. Schultz has always talked about Starbucks as the “third place” — a cultural meeting ground between home and work. The company promotes itself as having an identity defined by inclusion, so much so that, after President Trump’s executive order barring immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, Starbucks announced that it would hire 10,000 refugees at its stores around the world by 2022.

It cannot be denied that the U.S. has had a troubled racial history. But we have also seen racism become the most unacceptable attitude there is in the U.S.

So I hope those who led the Starbucks sessions yesterday also talked about progress in race relations in the U.S., but I am not confident that they did. .

I hope that former attorney general Eric Holder took time to note how things have changed dramatically from our troubled racial history. But I wouldn't be willing to bet on it.

And, by the way, Starbucks doesn't have to take immigration policy seriously.

For heaven's sake, it's a coffee shop.

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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