As far as brands go, Starbucks is one that is obsessed with social consciousness (just look at its flopped “Race Together” campaign), so this offensive statue comes as a surprise. According to USA Today, English actress Thandie Newton visited a location of the coffee chain in London and saw something more unsettling than the calorie count of a venti Caramel Frappuccino. On display near the register was a statue of a black child dressed in a loin cloth and safari hat, holding a basket of coffee beans.
Newton tweeted out the photo writing, “Loin cloth and Safari hat on a black child. Happy New Year circa 19th century.” Starbucks quickly responded to her outrage explaining that the company was “very concerned” to learn about the incident and that they have removed the statue.
— Thandie Newton (@thandienewton) January 4, 2016
@thandienewton we are very concerned to learn of this incident & we can’t apologise enough. We have removed the figure & are investigating.
— Starbucks Help (@starbuckshelp) January 5, 2016
Typically, snafus like this can be chalked up to ignorant franchise owners. However, Starbucks owns all of its stores and everything that is displayed usually has approval from the corporate offices, meaning that someone likely messed up. A spokesperson for Starbucks tells ET: “Serving as a welcoming place for everyone is core to who we are as a company. As we became aware of the offense, we immediately removed the figure from our store. We aim to provide an inclusive environment for all customers and communities in which we serve.”
This year has started out a little bit shaky for the coffee chain. In addition to the statue incident, last week a Starbucks employee was caught stealing a customer’s credit card information. California resident Elizabeth Becerra confronted the 19-year-old Starbucks employee on video who took a photo of Becerra’s credit card when she went through the drive-thru and used the information to purchase $212 worth of groceries.
[via USA Today]