Sometimes companies just don't know when to quit. Starbucks announced a controversial, confusing, and arguably dumb initiative this week "to engage both employees and customers in discussions about race." CEO Howard Schultz urged employees nationwide to handwrite the phrase "Race Together" on cups to help spark this conversation. Early reports show that so far, it's pretty much been a complete and utter failure.
However, Starbucks also promised that the USA Today would publish a supplement featuring race relations "conversation starters." Well that day is upon us: The eight page supplement is very much here and it includes 10 "conversation starters" that read as an uncomfortable Mad Libs exercise. Somehow, asking people to quantify how many times they've interacted with other races doesn't seem like a productive way to spark conversation on a very touchy subject.
To make matters worse, an internal memo reveals that Starbucks locations will be required to display these conversation starters by the register. Below, Starbucks' race conversation starters, ranked — from most awful to least — by a very scientific awkwardness/how-long-they-will-hold-up-the-line factor:
1) In my Facebook stream, ___% are of a different race.
1) In the past year, I have been to the home of someone of a different race ___ times.
1) In the past year, someone of a different race has been in my home ___ times.
1) ___ members of a different race live on my block or apartment building.
1) In the past year, I have eaten a meal with someone of a different race ___ times.
1) I most often talk to someone of another race:
___ At work
1) At work, we have managers of ___ different races.
1) My children have ___ friends of a different race.
1) My parents had ___ friends of a different race.
1) I have ___ friends of a different race.