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Community leaders and public officials appear at a press conference in front of a Starbucks coffee shop in downtown Philadelphia, United States, on Monday, April 16, 2018, two days after two black men were arrested at the facility. EFE / Bastiaan Slabbers
Community leaders and public officials appear at a press conference in front of a Starbucks coffee shop in downtown Philadelphia, United States, on Monday, April 16, 2018, two days after two black men were arrested at the facility. EFE / Bastiaan Slabbers

It's not Starbucks. It is the whole country

The controversy of the coffee company for racism is again evidence of a problem rooted in American culture.

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Thousands of people worldwide turn to Starbucks’ comfortable facilities for coffee, work, meet, use WiFi or simply ask for a "coffee" and upload a photo to Instagram, without worrying about how they will be perceived when it comes to being catered.

But an incident in Philadelphia on April 12 brought to light the worst facet of customer service in the United States, when the police arrested two citizens only because of their physical appearance.

It was because of the "unconscious bias" of one of the employees that two African-American individuals were removed from the facilities handcuffed, under the argument of "occupying a table without having purchased," explains The Guardian.

Actually, the two young people were waiting for a friend who was in the bathroom.

This blatantly racial characterization highlights one of the worst problems in American culture.

For Carron J. Phillips, this is nothing new: "for hundreds of years, black people in this country have lived by a different set of rules. There are certain things that we just know we can’t do." In his column for the NY Daily News, Phillips explains the cultural conditioning to which citizens of color are subjected based on archaic prejudices.

"Don’t walk into a store with your hands in your pockets because you don’t want to be accused of stealing something. Don’t walk/drive through affluent areas after dark because you don’t want to be suspected as being a crook," he explains.

While Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz admitted feeling "embarrassed" by the way the employee handled the incident and said "that's not who Starbucks is," the incident in Philadelphia simply "raises questions about how deeply Schultz's sensitivity on racial discrimination seeped into the company," the Washington Post argues.

"Companies that champion liberal values are not free of the racial bias and insensitivity," the newspaper continues. "Even companies headquartered in deeply blue Seattle with tuition assistance programs and headed with leaders who speak out against entry bans from Muslim countries are capable of harboring racism."

And is that the problem goes beyond a strategy of damage control. This is an idiosyncratic problem.

In the video recorded by one of the consumers at the Philadelphia store - and that went viral on social media - a white man asks the officers if the young blacks are being arrested for their skin color. The officer calmly replies that "yes".

But police officers don’t represent Starbucks.

Leonard Pitts Jr. argues that the company "is not the problem."

"America is a nation still infected with the same idiocy that has bedeviled us since before Thomas Jefferson wrote those noble words that he didn’t believe about all men were being created equal," writes the columnist for the Miami Herald. "Now, as then, some of us think you can judge a person’s intentions and worth from the color of their skin."

The case of the cafeteria in Philadelphia has prompted others to make public their experiences with Starbucks, proving that racism won’t hide from social media.

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