The original version of this article included an embedded tweet from an account, @TEN_GOP, that was identified in October 2017 as being linked to the Russian government. The account has been suspended. The tweet — which declared “Black American unemployment rate is double the national average but Starbucks is looking to hire foreigners. #BoycottStarBucks” — has been removed from Twitter.
Americans are divided after President Trump’s executive order that prevented people from some Muslim-majority countries from entering the country. Millions have either bad-mouthed or supported the president, and companies, nonprofits and even Nobel laureates have taken strong, public stances.
By all accounts, things are about to get worse. Or at the very least crankier. Especially in the mornings before work.
Howard Schultz, chief executive of the Starbucks coffee chain, has announced plans to hire thousands of refugees in dozens of countries around the world over the next five years. People who disagree with his stance have poured out their disdain with the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks.
Schultz announced the plan Sunday in an open letter to Starbucks employees.
“There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business,” he said in the letter.
The hiring focus, he said, will be on people who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel “where our military has asked for such support.”
Critics erupted with a Trenta-size helping of vitriol.
Among the main points: Starbucks should be working to create jobs for Americans in America — specifically veterans or black people or the struggling unemployed — not thousands of refugees.
Meanwhile, people on the other side of the issue have shot back using the same hashtag. Among their main points: More coffee for me.
Starbucks isn’t the only company that has found itself in the crosshairs in relation to the ban.
On Saturday, taxi drivers in New York staged a work stoppage from 6 to 7 p.m. after Trump’s announcement.
Some have claimed that a 7:30 p.m. announcement from ride-hailing company Uber, saying it had turned off surge pricing in New York, was tantamount to the company admitting that it broke a strike, according to New York magazine. And thus #DeleteUber was born.
Like #BoycottStarbucks, the hashtag started trending. Uber bought ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that spoke of the company’s commitment to compensate Uber drivers who can’t get back into the country because of Trump’s ban.
The taxi workers’ union even tweeted a statement in support of the competition, saying that the boycott hurts “the hard-working drivers for these companies.”
The concept of politics seeping into coffee cups and ride-hailing apps is part of a trend that has been brewing since the volatile election season, The Washington Post’s Jena McGregor wrote in December.
That was when Kellogg’s — the maker of cereals such as Froot Loops and Frosted Mini-Wheats — announced that it was pulling advertisements from Breitbart News, “the far-right website that its critics say trades in racist and sexist content,” McGregor wrote. Breitbart called for its readers to boycott the company and started writing vitriolic stories about the maker of Eggo waffles and Pop-Tarts.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before, where companies find themselves so open to attack for their points of view or their speech,” Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist for the public relations firm Weber Shandwick, told McGregor.
“Companies are now much more in the fray and seen as political targets.”