Archive for the ‘starbucks’ Tag

A Brouhaha About Nothing   2 comments

So apparently there’s some sort of flap about Starbucks and a red cup. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2015/11/11/itsjustacup-mocks-starbucks-red-cup-controversy/75563876/

As a Christian, I should be very exercised by this denigration of Christmas and Jesus and join a picket line outside of a local Starbucks.

AFP 546238018 A FIN USA DCBut I’m not. Here’s why:

  1. It’s zero here today and that is the worst possible time to picket anywhere.
  2. I don’t like Starbucks coffee so I rarely drink it. Don’t get me wrong. I like coffee — A LOT. But Fairbanks has plenty of independent coffee huts that make WAY better coffee than Starbucks, so I only drink it if I’m at Barnes & Noble and then only if its’ really cold outside. I can find better coffee almost anywhere else in Fairbanks and for a lower price and that helps the local economy.
  3. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, so why should I get exercised over someone (possibly) denigrating Christmas yet? Let’s deal with the denigration of Thanksgiving first. Have you noticed that except for turkeys, you pretty much wouldn’t know that Thanksgiving is a holiday. Our grocery stores here (which are all large chains) decorated for Christmas November 1. So, if I was going to get exercised over the color of a cup at Starbucks, I would complain that it’s not orange.

There! See! Now we’re at least in the right month.

So, here’s the thing. As a Christian, I am very much annoyed that stores try to turn Christmas into a midwinter festival. When cashiers say “Happy Holidays” to me, I say “Merry Christmas” in return. It’s a deliberate choice on my part and I don’t care if it annoys you. Get over it. I celebrate Christmas. You can celebrate what you want, but you don’t have the right to force me to celebrate it with you.

I do my Christmas shopping, mostly, in September, so I don’t really notice if stores are not highlighting Christmas at Christmas, but I do try to frequent on-line stores that celebrate Christmas as Christmas, so yes, I care about the issue and encourage those Christians who actually shop during the Christmas season to choose to not shop at stores that act as if Christmas is more about Santa and reindeer than Jesus Christ. I don’t think you’re silly. If stores want to ignore the Christian aspects of the midwinter festivity, well, losing some business might be enlightening for them.

But, folks, choose your battles and weapons carefully. Accusing Starbucks of “hating Jesus” because of the color of a coffee cup just feeds their corporate PR machine and, trust me, they don’t need our help with that. Their advertising budget is enormous and now Christians — all of us and not just the useful idiots — are seen to have blown our wad on a controversy that just looks silly.

Now, maybe we can get back to celebrating Thanksgiving in November instead of looking like fools.

Enough said?

On Being a Racist   10 comments

(Hubby Brad is making one of his rare guest appearances. Lela)

 

Hello, my name is Brad and I am a racist.

I must be a racist because the barista at Starbuck’s scribbled “Race Together” on the side of my cup. Apparently I look like a racist. Apparently Lela does not because her cup just had her name scrawled on the side along with the secret code for how she likes her coffee. Her friend Susan, who looks very Alaska Native, was also not blessed with the invitation to have a conversation with a white coffee-dispensing college student about race. My friend PJ — RACIST!

Lela and I are generally opposed to putting our images out on social media. It’s not like the NSA doesn’t know who we are or what we look like, but we don’t want to make it any easier for them. You’ll just have to take my word for it — I’m white. My eyes are blue-green, my hair is sort of honey brown and my skin — well, this time of year, it’s blindingly white. We don’t get a lot of sun in Alaska in the winter and since it rained all last summer, it’s been about 18 months since I’ve tanned. So I think this is the whitest I’ve ever been.

I know — disgraceful! How can I have any understanding of what darker-skinned people feel when my skin is this white? And I was buying coffee with another white guy at a bookstore! Can’t you just smell the white privilege?  White men who can read at a 6th grade level and afford designer coffee! Obviously we need to discuss race relations in America with our barista! I mean, she has dreds. She can’t possibly be a racist!

So here’s something to know about the inner workings of my mind. Like most human beings on the planet, I do have some prejudices. I prefer vanilla over chocolate ice cream, for example. I discriminate against flavorless Lower 48 blueberries in favor of tart Alaska blueberries. I like Jeeps better than Subarus which I prefer over Fords. If given a choice, I will choose movies that feature explosions over romantic comedies. I don’t like some people and love to hang out with others. I discriminate all of the time. We all do and that is not necessarily an evil thing. Trust me on this — Alaska blueberries — WAY better than Lower 48 blueberries!!!!

Ah, but is my choice of coffee companions an indication that I discriminate in favor of white people? Could be. I grew up in a rough New York City neighborhood during the bussing era of the 1970s. In the 5th grade, I was stabbed by a Puerto Rican girl for no reason I ever knew and I haven’t really had much use for Puerto Ricans since, but if you are a friendly Puerto Rican and don’t try to stab me, I’ll eventually warm up to you. You know the saying — once stabbed, twice shy, but you can prove to me that I can trust you. And, then I was once beaten up by two drunk (Alaska) Native men, so if you’re a drunk Alaska Native man harassing people in downtown Fairbanks Alaska, you might want to steer clear of me. I’ve learned to growl and threaten to bite rather than get kicked in the ribs again.

See — RACIST! Or maybe the Puerto Rican chick and the Native guys hurt me and I learned the lesson they were trying to teach me.

In high school, I was smitten by a black girl in my history class who would never give me the time of day. My best friend is an Alaskan Eskimo. My wife is part-American Indian. My very beloved daughter actually looks more Indian than her mother. Once I was the only white man on a remote job site and three of my black coworkers announced I could call them the “n-word”. I guess these non-whites have f failed to notice that I’m a bigot, huh?

I’m Irish American and like most American whites, I am uncomfortable with this topic. In fact, I feel like I don’t have a right to have a contrarian opinion on this subject. The only reason I’m posting this is that Lela insisted. It was about 17 years ago that my coworkers honored me by trying to let me into their group. I couldn’t say the “n-word” without blushing and choking. They thought it was funny and tried to get me to practice it, but I never could do it. Finally, they took pity on me and said I didn’t have to. But why was it hard for me to say it? They called each other “nigga” all the time. It appeared to be a term of endearment and camaraderie. I was honored that they gave me permission, but I couldn’t say it. Since then, I’ve asked quite a few white people if they could say “n-word”. I haven’t found any that could. They are absolutely embarrassed by the term.

Why?Because we’ve all been indoctrinated to never have bigoted thoughts about people of color and to never, ever say the n-word. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, but I want to just point out that there’s a double standard. White people have been taught to be careful of the sensitivities of non-whites, but non-whites are not necessarily held to the same standard.

Have you ever seen an Indian fella wearing a “Native Pride” hat? You see it a lot here in Alaska. I’ve often wondered what would happen if I wore a “white pride” T-shirt, but I fear getting beat up again, so I’ve never run that experiment. This week in Fairbanks, we’re having the Festival of Native Arts, where Native people get together for Native dancing and eating ethnic foods (muktuk and seal oil, yummo!) and non-Natives are expected to plunk down big money to go watch this, but they aren’t permitted to participate. We’re supposed to respect this exhibit as healthy cultural pride. What if Irish people were to get together for jig dancing or Germans were to get together for beer drinking and glockenspieling and say it’s okay for non-Irish to pay money to watch, but they can’t participate — what would be the reaction?

BIGOTS!

But what really bugs me is that 17 years ago, I could say “nigga” to a black man and he would call me friend, but today I don’t think those same men would honor me with that privilege because black people today are no longer judging white people by the content of their character, but by the color of our skin. White people are expected to apologize for being white, as if that is anything we can control any more than a black person can control being born black.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like racism to you? It sure sounds a lot like racism to me.

Race with Us? Really?   9 comments

Pouring my coffee over her head occurred to me!

In case you don’t know, Starbuck’s has decided to instruct the rest of America on race relations in this country. In doing so, they’ve managed to lose my business for a while.

RACE WITH US!

It’s what was scribbled on the side of my husband’s coffee cup last night. It was also scrawled on the side of his friend PJ’s cup. We ran into PJ and Susan in the parking lot of Barnes & Noble. Susan and I talked quilting while PJ and Brad discussed how the early spring is messing up their snow machining. The guys got coffee and the gals got coffee. Susan is Athabaskan Indian. I’m part-American Indian (but white people don’t usually see it unless it’s pointed out or if I’m with someone for them to compare me to and see similarities). Brad is Irish-American, I think PJ is German-American – blond and his last name could be German (okay, I never thought to ask).

The problem?

Susan and I had no such missive on the sides of our cups!

RACE WITH US?

It is not just white people in this country that need to have a conversation about racism. I’m a tribal member. Trust me. Reservation Indians are the most racist group I know personally. The Tanana Chiefs Conference just called for a 100-year plan that includes (in my opinion, but Susan agreed with me) some highly racially-oriented ideas. My black-nephew-in-law took the election of Barack Obama to start having a race conversation in which he has decided all “white” people are racists who need to be confronted about what he supposes is going on in our heads.

Kind of like Starbuck’s.

Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a day when a man might be judged by the content of his character not the color of his skin. I thought we were there when we elected Barack Obama. That would seem to have been a pretty clear indication that blacks at least were welcomed into the circles of power not just by the elites, but by the voters. Sadly, I was mistaken. This has been the most racially-divisive presidency since Richard Nixon.

These days having “white” skin immediately means you need to be educated about race relations by bigots with dark skin. Brad and PJ, two white men, need the conversation. Susan and I apparently do not. The message I got was that if you’re a person of color, you’re exempt from this race conversation. Or maybe it’s that if you’re hanging out with a person of color, you don’t need that conversation. If you are white and you have friends who are white then you clearly need the conversation. For the record, PJ and Brad are married to BIA-recognized tribal members and have children who are BIA-recognized tribal members.

So now you know why I wanted to pour my coffee over the barista’s head.

I resent the insinuation that if I am not of a certain racial group I must be a bigot. Until this conversation started coming up every other day, I personally hadn’t thought much about racial issues for a long long time. That’s right. I’m an American Indian who had not thought much about racism. Why? Because I don’t experience a lot of racism in my life. That may be because I don’t go looking for it. The world is full of rude people of every skin color. I don’t assume they are rude because they are racists. I assume they are rude because they are human. Maybe ignorance is bliss or maybe I only encounter racism when the person is truly being a racist, when I can’t avoid the reality.

Like when the Starbuck’s barista scribbles “Race with us” on the side of my husband’s coffee cup, but not on mine.

And, by the way, overt racists are (in my experience) almost always people of color. White people got it knocked out of them a long time ago. Maybe there are still racist thoughts kicking around in their heads that come out when they drink heavily, but for the most part they don’t say it and they don’t act on it. Reservation Indians and certain communities of black people, however ….

If we want to have this conversation, let’s invite everybody to the table. Let’s be honest about racism in America and admit that while white people have learned to keep their heads down and their mouths shut on the subject, people of color feel their skin color have been given a pass on their own racism.

RACE WITH US?

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