Starbucks bans employees from wearing Black Lives Matter attire

Starbucks publicly voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement while it privately banned employees from wearing any BLM-related clothing or accessories, according to a report.

The coffee giant sent out several tweets last week pledging to “stand in solidarity with our Black partners, customers and communities.” But offline, Starbucks was at the same time barring its baristas and other shop employees for expressing that same support at work, according to a memo obtained by BuzzFeed News.

The company stated that Black Lives Matters gear does not adhere to dress code policy banning pins representing “political, religious or personal issue[s]” — even though the chain gladly hands out LGBTQ and marriage rights buttons to those workers, the outlet reported.

Zing Shaw, Starbucks’ vice president for inclusion and diversity, reasoned that BLM messaging could “amply divisiveness” among customers, according to the memo, which pointed employees to a video of Shaw explaining the decision. The video has since been removed.

“[There] are agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles of the Black Lives Matter movement — and in certain circumstances intentionally repurpose them to amplify decisiveness,” the memo explained.

People damaging a Starbucks in Mexico City.

REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Paul Martinka

Calvin Benson, a black Starbucks barista in Atlanta, told BuzzFeed that Starbucks’ decision was “disappointing in ways I can’t express in words.”

“My skin color incites violence at Starbucks. Should I not come to work?” he asked. “It is silencing and Starbucks is complicit. Now more than ever, Starbucks needs to stand with us.”

Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A company spokesperson speaking with BuzzFeed stood behind the memo, saying it was working to fight against “systemic racism,” but that the dress code was defined “to create a safe and welcoming” space for customers.