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Comedian Larry Wilmore Tears Apart Starbucks' Failed Race Together Campaign

"You're looking to make progress Starbucks? Okay. Why don't you start by not selling CDs in 2015."


Comedian Larry Wilmore tackled Starbucks' controversial (and failed) Race Together campaign last night on the Nightly Show. Last week, the coffee chain asked its baristas to write the phrase "Race Together" on coffee cups to start conversations about race with the customers. But the company faced much backlash and quickly halted the effort. The majority of last night's episode was devoted to the subject — not only did Wilmore do monologues about the campaign but he also gathered a panel to discuss the issues at hand — and the results are hilarious. Check out the 16 best jokes from the show below:

  • Wilmore on what Starbucks should have done: "You're looking to make progress Starbucks? Okay. Why don't you start by not selling CDs in 2015."
  • Wilmore on the backlash Starbucks is facing: "Starbucks ends its controversial Race Together campaign. Yeah that's 'cause when people heard about it, they raced together to Dunkin' Donuts."
  • Wilmore on race relations: "Starbucks wasn't blasted for having a conversation about race, they were blasted for wanting to have a conversation about race. That's how much we need to have a conversation about race... We can't even take about talking about it."
  • Wilmore on why the initiative failed: "Starbucks what you need to understand is that for most Americans there's a time and place to take about race. The place is nowhere, and the time is never."
  • Willmore on the eight-page spread in USA Today: This means "all across the nation, guests at the Holiday Express are going to the front desk and saying, ‘I think you accidentally gave me a copy of Ebony Magazine.'"
  • Wilmore on other stores that have had successful social campaigns like Gap's Red campaign for AIDS: "They don't force you to talk about the issue while shopping in their stores. Like: ‘Here are the news khakis in the relaxed fit. Do you know what's not relaxing? Aids.'"
  • Wilmore on Race Together: "Starbucks felt that coffee and awkward conversations were meant to go together."
  • The show decided to send out correspondents Ricky Velez and Mike Yard to find coffee drinkers and "stir up some awkward conversations".

    Ricky Velez to a customer: "You're getting coffee now? Have you ever thought about freezing your eggs?" 

    Mike Yard to a customer: "Skim latte? Sounds delicious. Why do you think America hates black people so much?"
  • Wilmore then hosted a panel called Coffee Together: "Starbucks is using coffee to talk about race and so we're going to use race to talk about coffee." He gave each person a coffee order that "matched" their race:

    To Rosie Perez: "You're Puerto Rican. How do you like your coffee? Almond milk and two sugars? Good. That makes sense."
    To Kenneth Cole: "You're a white guy so that's soy milk and one sweet and low."
    To Phoebe Robinson: "You're keeping it real. Black, right?" 
    To 2 Chainz: "How much weed did we put in yours?... Because he's a rapper!"
  • Wilmore then asks the panel "What would be the worse jobs to talk about race?"

    Phoebe Robinson's reply: "A customer service person for a cable company. You're just trying to sell people Showtime and you're like ‘Oh man let's talk about the blacks man, we got to do it before I give you your HBO.'"
  • Wilmore on caffeine: "Caffeine is basically a drug the way I look at it. I'm not saying that coffee companies are drug dealers. Now 2 Chainz you were a drug dealer right? Did you ever talk about to your customers at all?"

    2 Chainz's response: "I just tell them they need to race their ass over here and get it before it's gone."

Check out clips from the show below: