6 Reasons Racial Bias Training Won’t Stop Racial Targeting

When it comes to issues of race, a popular theory is the idea that people are racist by accident and at worse, because of ignorance.  While racist beliefs are a sign of ignorance, the point that many who espouse this miss is the fact that racism is also at times intentional and deliberate. This is often hard to prove because it's become very easy to play innocent and claim that the people accusing you of racism are the "real racists."

So here's a list of 6 reasons why the proposed racial bias training as a result of an act of racism at a Philadelphia Starbucks will not stop racial targeting.

1. The problem is bigger than Starbucks. Racism within restaurants, bars, and cafes has been going on for as long as America has been a nation. While black access to white businesses was gained through the Civil Rights movement, that has not prevented new forms of discrimination from rising. Impediments such as dress codes used to target certain groups that dress a certain way can be used to deny entry and service into an establishment. Making certain patrons wait longer to be seated and longer to be served is also a common mechanism found in places of businesses that discriminate against patrons based on a variety of things ranging from race to religion.

2. All bias is not unconscious. Implicit bias refers to beliefs and/or stereotypes that one holds that they are unconscious of. Being that they are not aware of how their beliefs impact other people, it is believed that people who have implicit bias act out involuntarily. Racial bias training in a given space (in this case Starbucks) assumes that what happened to the two black men in Starbucks was the result of an unconscious form a racism. I don't give people that much benefit of the doubt anymore. I don't know how "unconscious" a persons thinking is when they call the police on black patrons over white patrons, when the black patrons had only been there for a couple minutes before the police were called.

3.  Assuming the worst in people is at the heart of racial targeting. A one day course won't change that when an entire generation of these teachable moments has occurred and many people still act on racial impulses. At some you have to be honest about the moment we're in and acknowledge that people are choosing to be this way.

4. Police as tools of black population control goes back to slavery itself. Race-based policing historically has been an expression on how the powerful and established in society sought to micromanage and box in the black community through law. White supremacy was codified into law from the very beginning. Who do you think the everyday enforcers of slavery, the black codes, Jim Crow, etc were? The manager, who is being accused of being racist by a former employee, acted on age-old societal norms on how to deal with black men.

5. If Starbucks wants to show it's serious about taking on racism, they should financially back and support the formation of a federal truth and reconciliation commission. There have been attempts at truth commissions in the past under the Clinton administration more recently, but the agenda was never more than "heartfelt discussions." Truth commissions need to have federal legitimacy with the intent to fundamentally change society for the better. As a society, you are admitting to human rights violations of your historic past. This would be a more radical solution, but it's time we demand more action and less "thoughts and prayers" on issues of race.

6. The ultimate solution involves not supporting businesses that profit off of black suffering and to support black-owned alternatives.This may not apply to Starbucks as much as it applies to all corporations that we do business with that turn around and use that capitol to invest in things like prison labor. Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Wendy's and others have been exposed in the past for using prison labor to cut costs. Black alternatives are not always available, and if there are black alternatives, they may not be local. I'd suggest trying to find an alternative online if there isn't a local option available to you.

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