By Tom Cardella
Frankly, I was not surprised at the recent racial incident at the Starbucks at Rittenhouse Square. After all, the company has been aggressively promoting its new Blonde Roast lately. At this moment I’m trying to confirm rumors that David Duke switched from Dunkin’ to Starbucks because of his preference for this pale brew. I flew to Louisiana to confront Duke about the rumor. He told me to “lighten up,” and added an extra creamer to his Grande-sized cup. Once I get to the bottom of my investigative reporting on Starbucks racial policies, my next assignment is to figure out why their small-sized coffee is called “tall.”
For years, coffee companies have been segregating their beans by color, alerting my suspicions. Of course, right-wing evangelicals have been vilifying Starbucks for years since they discovered the company’s logo contained a hidden tribute to Satan. Some church leaders objected to the design of their holiday cups because they didn’t express the true meaning of Christmas. And didn’t some South Carolinians swear they saw Beelzebub in the foam of their Mochaccinos?
I don’t know about you, but I’m happy that the CEO of Starbucks admitted their mistake in denying the two African-American men the use of the restroom. Then he did what CEOs do best: blamed the incident on his manager. Starbucks, in accordance with its reputation as a consistently progressive company, didn’t fire their manager. She left by “mutual” agreement. Which is to say, the company agreed to extract her from under the bus where they threw her so she could disappear into the night. I’m told she was heard screaming as she left the store, “It wasn’t racist. I was afraid they wouldn’t remember to lift the toilet seat!”
As most national news outlets did, Fox news covered the Starbucks incident. But Fox was the only one to claim that the protesters from Black Lives Matter were actors, not activists. Sean Hannity said he recognized one of the protesters as an extra in the movie Black Panther. Hannity swears that some of the members of Black Lives Matter are Parkland students in blackface.
President Trump joined Hannity by phone and wondered aloud why anyone would patronize Starbucks when you can get a cup of java for a buck at McDonald’s. And he added, “the breakfast sandwiches are better.” Hannity chimed in calling Starbucks “the home of bleeding heart liberal elitists.” Sean said he was surprised that liberals weren’t all tea drinkers. Trump congratulated all the “good” people who were part of the white Nazi counter-protesters outside Starbucks. Hannity gently reminded the President that there weren’t any white Nazi counter-protesters there. Trump was insistent. “Next, you’re going to tell me I didn’t see those Muslims celebrating the attack on 9/11,” he said. Laura Ingraham made a quick appearance to question the educational qualifications of the two black men who were refused restroom privileges. The Hannity Show ended with all three Foxsters agreeing that the situation could’ve been resolved without protests, if everyone involved had been carrying guns.
I have to admire Dunkin’ Donuts for taking advantage of Starbucks bad publicity. Love those new signs in their windows — AT DUNKIN’, YOU PEE FOR FREE. Wawa doesn’t want to be left out. They noted that you don’t have to know what “venti” means when you buy a cup of the stores’ coffee. Wawa doesn’t segregate their coffee beans, according to their CEO. I’ve always suspected Wawa of using the same beans anyway in their 110 varieties of coffee. The difference in flavor, I think, is in the creamers. Artificially flavored creamers, as Starbucks would likely point out. Wawa’s new advertising slogan is YOU CAN WEE WEE AT WAWA. I’m writing a screenplay about this. I’m calling it Creamer vs Creamer.
Here in South Philadelphia, we’re blaming Mayor Jim Kenney for the Starbucks incident. Why? Because we firmly believe that Kenney is behind every evil that has befallen the world since he took office or rather since he came out in favor of moving the Rizzo statue (rumor has it that big Frank drank Linton’s coffee). I interviewed several disgruntled South Philadelphians on their opinions about the center city Starbucks incident. Here’s excerpts from some of my interviews:
Dee: “It’s Kenney’s fault. You see him running right away to that Starbucks in center city. You never see him visit our Starbucks.”
Niki: “Rizzo would’ve locked all of them up. No questions asked.”
Ralphie: “I saw Kenney one time at the Melrose drinking coffee. He holds his pinkie finger out when he holds the cup.”
Chibby: “Maybe Kenney will start taxing the restrooms too.”
Denise: “Who cares about Starbucks? Is Kenney going to bring the parade back down here? That’s what I want to know.”
The best thing you could say about what happened at Starbucks is that there were white people standing up for the black guys who were handcuffed and perp-walked out the door. It’s likely the first time anyone sitting in Starbucks ever looked up from their laptop. It’s good to know that the perception of racial injustice can wake a Starbucks customer out of their zombie-like trance. Grounds for optimism. Not even being charged $9 for a Triple Venti, nonfat, caramel Macchiato can stir them.
Have we heard the last of the Starbucks incident? Will we ever have clean, public restrooms in Philadelphia? Or is it too little too late?