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Starbucks closed on May 29 for racial insensitivity training. Photo: Xinhua/Yang Chenglin via Getty Images

Following the national outcry in response to the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks in April, the company shut all of its U.S. stores on May 29 to conduct racial sensitivity training. The New Yorker's Kelefa Sanneh sat in on one of the sessions, and recorded the podcast, titled "All the Caffeine in the World Doesn’t Make You Woke" on NPR's This American Life.

The big picture: Starbucks says the training day is the first step in a longer process aimed at helping customers "feel welcome" in the store. But, as Sanneh points out, the success of the company's efforts will be difficult to gauge moving forward.

The details

The trainings took place in 8,000 stores across the country and were self-directed with no official leader, Sanneh said. The sessions were broken down into three parts for employees to review:

  1. Acknowledging the differences between people.
  2. Recognizing racial biases, including structural biases embedded in laws and regulations as well as implicit biases created from stereotyping.
  3. Starbucks policies and their changes.

Employees were also given a 68-page booklet with a timeline specifying how long each section should take an employee to work through. They also received a 40-page handbook where they could document their feelings and reflections when experiencing "racial anxiety."

What the company is saying

Starbucks' former executive chairman, Howard Schultz, insists that the training day was not designed as a marketing ploy, despite some public skepticism about the plan and its effectiveness.

This has nothing to do with trying to sell anything.
— Howard Schultz
The bottom line

It's unclear how successful the training was, Sanneh said, but he could tell people made an effort to have meaningful conversations about race.

“Did it help? It’s hard to tell. Starbucks said it wasn’t measuring outcomes. But in this one conference room in Seattle, it felt sincere. Maybe even helpful."

Listen to the 60-minute podcast here.

Go deeper

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.

1 hour ago - World

North Korea's military fires another ballistic missile into sea

A woman in Seoul, South Korea, walks past a television image if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired at least one ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday, per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues National Archives, Jan. 6 committee to block records request

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the National Archives from releasing White House records to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing executive privilege.

Why it matters: It's the latest escalation in Trump's campaign to disrupt the committee's sweeping probe into the circumstances surrounding Jan. 6, including his actions and communications leading up to the Capitol attack.