Dear Starbucks,


Contrary to what your tweets say, your policies didn't lead to arrests, racism and discrimination did. As much as you want us to believe those young black men being walked out of your store in handcuffs came to that end because of your policies, racism and discrimination from your employees was the cause. Issuing an apology absent the truth won't end the boycott, and it won't make black folks feel safe sitting in your coffee shops. Terminating the employees that called the police, calling this incident what it is, and addressing your policies might.

Thursday, two young black men were arrested for doing what so many of us have done, sitting in a coffee shop waiting to meet someone without making a purchase. Those who witnessed the incident said the manager never told the men to make a purchase or leave. Instead, she called the police and told them the men were trespassing. What did they do to prompt the manager to call the police? They asked to use the restroom.

One eye-witness said, "The two young men politely asked why they were being told to leave and were not given a reason other than the manager asked the two men to leave, saying they would be trespassing if they did not leave."

The two young black men, real estate agents, were waiting for their business partner who arrived as they were being put in handcuffs.

Witnesses added these young men were polite and cordial, never raising their voices or becoming aggressive. I'm glad they remained calm as I watched the video which made my heart pound, however, I would not have blamed them for getting upset; this happens too frequently, and it often ends up with the use of force being justified on young black men. I do not believe that all police are bad or racist, but the fact of the matter is this country has a long-standing history of police being complicit in racial bias and racism.

Unfortunately, we can now add sitting in a coffee to the list of things young black men cannot do without being confronted by police. To say race wasn't an issue, in this case, would be a gross mischaracterization of this incident and a flat-out lie. By many first-hand accounts, there were other people present who had not purchased anything. Some of them were allowed to use the restroom and go on about their business unimpeded, but they were not young black men.

The reality is, when young black men aren't wearing suits and ties while doing things everyone else does, they often end up wearing handcuffs while doing things everyone else does. I'd be willing to bet everything I own that, even if they were wearing suits they  would not have been accosted.

I appreciate Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnson, issuing an apology and reaching out to meet with these young men, but an apology and meeting have to be part of a systemic change in the way Starbucks views people of color, especially at this store in Philadelphia. The manager that called the police owes these young men an apology.