Starbucks baristas will stop writing “Race Together” on customers’ cups, according to a company memo, ending one of the key components of the coffee chain’s much-criticized campaign to spark discussions about racial inequality.
CEO Howard Schultz said in the memo that the cups were “just the catalyst” for “Race Together,” which launched Wednesday and invited baristas to write the phrase on the cups, the Associated Press reports. Schultz added that the campaign will still continue as planned, with discussion forums and store expansion into minority communities.
The initiative has attracted controversy as a well-intentioned yet ineffective method to generate more conversations about the topic in a bid to influence change in the wake of racially charged events, like the nationwide protests over police brutality and several officer-involved killings of unarmed black Americans.
Schultz defended the campaign last week in light of the criticism, telling shareholders on Wednesday, “All I am asking of you is to understand what we’re trying to do, to understand our intentions. We strongly believe that our best days are ahead of us.”
Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson says the change is not related to the pushback: “Nothing is changing. It’s all part of the cadence of the timeline we originally planned.”