Starbucks chief ‘I don’t see color’ commentary at town hall draws criticism

Howard Schultz gives his views on race, but his critics say the statements are out of touch and don't recognized the realities of racism

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.


Starbucks founder Howard Schultz said he doesn’t see color – now or when he was a young child.

At CNN’s Town Hall Tuesday night in Houston the Brooklyn-born Schultz, who is a potential independent candidate for president in 2020 said: “As somebody who grew up in a very diverse background as a young boy in the projects I didn’t see color as a young boy and I honestly don’t see color now.”

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He was responding to a question regarding the arrest of two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia last year which created a racial profiling firestorm, prompting Schultz to close Starbucks stores nationwide for staff anti-racial bias training.

“We realized that we had a problem and it’s a problem that I think exists widely in this country and it’s something that I would characterize as unconscious bias that many of us have based on our own life experience,” Schultz said. “We have to be able to talk to people who are different to ourselves, we have to embrace the diversity of the nation,” he added.

Still the colorblind comment didn’t sit well with some people.

According to The Huffington Post, people took to social media to voice their disdain for Schultz’s comment.

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CNN host Don Lemon said it is not okay to say “I don’t see color” in 2019 and said it would be akin to saying “I don’t see gender.” Lemon suggested a better answer for Schultz in the future.

“The fact that you have someone in 2019 who is saying that I don’t see color, like who — again, I don’t know who is around him … of course you see those things. A better answer would be color has never been a defining characteristic for me, either qualifying or non-qualifying in this culture or in society,” Lemon said.

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CNN commentator Bakari Sellers, who is black, added that by “not seeing color” Schultz essentially “erases my blackness.” Sellers also said the comments were “ignorant” because “we want you to see our color” so you can see “the benefit of the diversity we bring to the table.” He said a colorblind society would “whitewash” the accomplishments of black people, according to CNN.