The news of two black men being arrested inside a Philadelphia Starbucks late last week has garnered national media attention, sparked outrage across the country and elicited a public apology from the city’s police commissioner. But among late night comedians, the situation has all but been ignored.
The one exception is Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, who has spent several nights mocking and discussing the arrests of Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson after they didn’t make a purchase while waiting for an acquaintance at the Starbucks on 18th and Spruce Streets.
On Wednesday night, Noah mocked the company’s announcement that it would close all its stores in the United States on the afternoon of May 29 to conduct training in “racial-bias education,” saying it was good news for racist baristas, as it gives them another month “to wild out.”
But Noah also gave Starbucks credit for not just apologizing, but taking concrete steps to address the situation, something he said should make employees at the company a lot more careful when it comes to dealing with race.
“In fact, I think we should see just how far we can push Starbucks now, just to mess with them,” Noah joked. “Like, now we go back after they’ve done the racial bias training, and just use the bathroom but take all the toilet paper home with us.”
The Daily Show has aired a number of segments this week that have touched on cultural aspects stemming from the arrests, including one featuring correspondent Dulce Sloan as a lone black 911 dispatcher, fielding worried calls from paranoid white people in the proximity of nearby African Americans.
On Tuesday, Noah interviewed former Attorney General Eric Holder, who is part of a panel helping Starbucks develop its racial bias training. Holder said he thinks Starbucks understands the gravity of the situation, but noted that the problem isn’t just contained within the coffee shop’s doors.
“What I think is we should not, as a society or as a country, feel comfort in the notion that this is a Starbucks problem,” Holder said. “This is a problem that is much larger. This is a problem that our nation has to deal with.”
Elsewhere on cable television Wednesday night, Fox News host Laura Ingraham had a very different take about Starbucks’ reaction, suggesting that it was overkill for the company to force 170,000 employees into training over the alleged racial bias of just one store manager.
“One employee in Philadelphia calls the cops on a pair of black men, and employees across the nation are kind-of assumed to be latent racists,” Ingraham said, claiming Starbucks was subjecting its employees to “the highly-paid indoctrination of the racism industry.”
Ingraham also called Starbucks “one of the most liberal companies in the world, citing the company’s decision to hire thousands of refugees following President Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim majority countries and encouraging baristas to address race relations by writing “Race Together” on customers’ cups back in 2015.