Bil Browning

Is This Starbucks Poster Racist?

Filed By Bil Browning | October 17, 2011 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: pickpocket warning, racist poster, Starbucks

Starbucks recently put up posters in their French stores warning customers to watch their valuables and not "let pickpockets spoil your moment of relaxation at Starbucks." While the posters might seem innocuous enough, the French organization SOS Racisme has cried foul and charged the chain with racism.

The group claims that the poster which features a dark skinned man surrounded by arrows pointing to various items like a cell phone or backpack insinuates that people of color are thieves. The chain pulled the posters but pointed out that there is a duplicate poster that features a white woman with the same arrows to valuables. The duo aren't thieves, according to Starbucks, they're customers.

What do you think? Are the posters racist? Or is this a case of the PC police run amuck?


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My first thought when I saw this was that the poster is warning customers (the individual pictured) to keep track of their possessions (hence the arrows from the individual to their things).

Of course, I only saw them next to one another instead of separately. You would think, though, that the reality that two posters exist would be enough to end cries of racism?

Laurie Edwards | October 17, 2011 12:01 PM

I've been PC forever and always will be, but this isn't PC; this is stupidity. The posters aren't racist, especially not when another poster in the series features a person of another race. There are so many other problems to do with race we should deal with--real problems--that it pisses me right off somebody's on about this silliness.

That about sums up my feelings on it too, Laurie. This is pissing into the wind for no good reason and only harms struggles against actual racism.

Not racist ... the first poster simply communicates that black people have expensive things that can be ripped off, too.

(Would be nice to have a translation of the French text -- help, Alex?)

Agreed. Where's Alex when you need him, eh? :)

The first:

Be wary of strangers who seem like they're up to something. Don't let pickpockets ruin your moment of relaxation at Starbucks... Keep an eye on your stuff!

The second:

Pickpockets often use distractions to take your things. Don't let them ruin your moment of relaxation at Starbucks... Keep an eye on your stuff!

It's not in the least racist. If only the French could be as concerned about sexism and sexual harassment.

Hm, I'd think twice about painting 65,000,000 men and women as uniformly sexist and nonchalant to sexual harassment.

Well, I think France has its own serious issues with racism, but I don't think it's manifested in these Starbucks posters.

The arrows are pointing away, these are victims not pickpockets. Oh well.

Not mentioned here is that there are lots of people in this country, especially on the left, who HATE starbucks. I don't blame them, but if (and a big if) that's their motivation they would do well to keeping their criticism to starbucks's crimes against humanity.

One last thing: the nonprofit industrial complex out here is much less professional than in the US. I don't mean that they're worse, necessarily, but advocacy orgs tend to have very few, if any, paid workers and are usually run by volunteers. The biggest gay group out here is pretty much a volunteer project, something one wouldn't say about HRC.

Just something to keep in mind since the linked article makes it sound like SOS Racisme was reacting to a customer complaint, which someone might have gotten carried away with.

Also too, Alberto just lost his wallet and cell phone to a pickpocket at a cafe Saturday. We spent the afternoon at the police station. Wasn't a Starbucks, tho, so it seems like pickpockets aren't particularly attracted to chains.

Most definitely not racist and yes, PC run amok.

Chitown Kev | October 18, 2011 1:25 PM

To answer the question, no.