Starbucks offers preview of racial-bias training to address Philadelphia arrests of black men

Soren McClay (left) and her stepmother, Donn T, hold signs during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in front of the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce Streets in April.

Starbucks on Wednesday offered a short preview of the racial-bias training its employees will undergo when the company closes all its U.S. stores on Tuesday afternoon.

The training will come a little more than a month after the arrests of two black men at a Starbucks in Center City sparked national outcrydays of protests in Philadelphia, and an apology from the city’s police commissioner. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson has called the arrests “reprehensible.”

In a video released Wednesday, the company said employees will explore bias and how it shows up in their lives, learn about racial discrimination in public accommodations, and watch a film by Stanley Nelson, a filmmaker who focuses on black history and experiences.

The company said Tuesday’s curriculum will set the foundation for a long-term diversity and inclusion effort.

>> Read more: Starbucks racial bias training can’t just be done in one day, Penn professor says

“We are here to make Starbucks a place where everyone — everyone — feels welcome,” Johnson said in the video.

Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, is among those who helped create the training. His brother, Howard Stevenson, is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who teaches people how to address racially charged encounters.

While Howard Stevenson was not involved in the Starbucks training, he told the Inquirer and Daily News last month what he believes it should feature. The professor said the training should involve role-playing exercises, stress the mental toll of racial discrimination, address discrimination’s physical toll, and let people open up about their own experiences. One day is just a start for such training, he said.

>> Read more: Would you have spoken up during Starbucks arrest of two black men? White teachers at a Delaware County school debate

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, 23-year-old entrepreneurs, were sitting in the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce Streets waiting for a business associate on April 12 when the store manager called police. A video of the arrest went viral.

Starbucks reached an agreement with Nelson and Robinson that offered them an undisclosed financial settlement. The City of Philadelphia agreed to pay Nelson and Robinson $1 each and set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs. The two men will not receive any of that money, the city said.