Starbucks 86ed Race Together!

Wow. That was fast!! Tonight, Howard Schultz announced an end to Starbucks’ proposed Race Together campaign – less than a week after the plan was announced. The initiative was organized to begin conversations about race and to promote empathy. Now, the initiave is history and a-soon-to-be B-school case study.

 As I said in yesterday’s post, corporate execs are not great social change agents.  Tough issues are not good for business and company heads will pull the plug when the going gets tough. Welp. Howard Schultz just proved me right. I don’t say that with glee. 

Although, I strongly disagreed with the plan, I wanted Starbucks to succeed in some small way. I actually believe companies can support race talk.  In fact, DC’s Busboys and Poets’ A.C.T.O.R program (A Continuing Talk On Race) has done just that for years.

Sadly, Race Together failed, in part, because it wasn’t thoughtful or grassroots enough, and it wasn’t ready for prime time. The intentions were good but now it’s over. Race Together has officially been 86ed.


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Skinny Lattes and Race Discussions? Howard Schultz and the limits of CEO leadership.


 Recently, Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz announced the company would begin a national conversation on race , also know as its Race Together campaign. The plan is bold. Either the baristas will begin conversations, write inspiring comments on coffee cups or provide race information to customers. I am not entirely clear about the details but not surprisingly, it has been met with tremendous controversy, skepticism and praise.

I am going to cut to the chase. I think Mr. Schultz’s current idea is dumb. The objectives seem vague. Starbucks employees are not trained to discuss race or to faciliate such conversations. Schultz, himself, seems pretty clueless about the ramificiations fighting bigotry in America. 

On one hand, Schultz deserves a little credit for wanting to jump into the fray. But, his is not above criticism for advancing an idea that just does not seem to be well thought out. Anyone with any experience addressing complex and deeply controversial issues knows good intentions can blow up quickly and leave both allies and enemies feeling angry and betrayed. Mr. Schultz is  a corporate leader. He is, I am sure, accostomed to calling the shots and making things happen. His company has the resources to create something amazing and transformative. The problem is he is not the ideal person to guide this plan. He will absolutely needs to step outside his role and his personal perspective and engage those experienced in in this area, like academics or counselors. No matter how big or successful Starbucks has been, this is not the job for a CEO. 

CEOs come up with ideas others implement. I am confident Schultz has no idea what race discussions mean on a day-to-day basis. It reminds me of the television program, Undercover Boss where a succesful executive often has no idea what goes on in their stores and sometimes does not have the skills to perform basic, but essential tasks. If Racing Together is unsuccessful, we know Schultz will pull the plug, which will support the misguided idea even that race conversations are too difficult.

Starbucks’ intiative may be a successful. Ultimately, it’s about having the willingness to implement a campaign that is long lasting with measurable results. CEOs come up with improvements that are worth considering. Like those Undercover Boss CEOs, Schultz should listen to his employees; start small; test programs in target stores; engage local community leaders and keep it managable. 

The plan is worthwhile. Corporations do good all the time. No matter how well-intentioned, a CEO is not cut out to lead a national conversation on race.

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Spring has arrived. Time to dust off the blog.

This Old HouseThe last time I updated Radicalconversationalist was 2011. It’s trifling. I know. But I am back and ready to write again. Before I get started, I have to say I feel bad for not writing for so long. I created a site, made it pretty, wrote for a while but I allowed the real estate to languish. Comments were not moderated. Entertainment discussions ceased.  

Do I have good excuses reasons for not writing, like work obligations or lack of focus? Absolutely. The past few years have been intense, but mainly,  I was just unsure about becoming a real blogger. As a novice, it felt daunting to write and to build a readership. My angst intensified when I shared my blog with a friend who seemed to dislike it and offered some surprising criticisms. My departure was also due to plain ole imposer’s syndrome, a common anxiety associated with feelings of inadequacy and fears of being outed as a fraud. I am anonymous. I write quite a bit in my professional life – even for national spokespersons, but presenting my own views feels scary. I also procrastinate.

All I know is I have a lot to say but not a lot of real estate. Facebook is not an ideal venue. Twitter is too short. If I am “just okay” today, fine, but the urge to write is inside me. It’s spring. What better day than today to dust off the site and just write?  


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Real Housewives of NY, S. 4, Ep. 11 – All Cheaters Lie

The ladies return to NYC and are getting jiggy in the bedroom with their husbands (gross.)

Ramona’s showing off how hot and amazing her husband is while Simon and Alex are weird as usual.  Simon literary says, “Making love with my wife is so wonderful” or some crap.(Gag)

The most important part is that Ramona casually mentions the fortune teller’s prediction that Mario’s having an affair. She casually asks him about it. He denied it. “Of course,” she said and reassured him that she never believed it in the first place. Well, girlfriend, no disrespect to this man. I don’t know him. I can only analyze what I see on television but I was not convinced. I think he was lying.

Something in the tone of his voice did not seem relaxed. I could hear tension as he said, “The only other woman in my life is Avery.” (uh-huh, right)

In the history of men cheating or being shady, it’s pretty safe to say that the first response is to lie.  The second response is to lie and most likely 99th response is to lie. And especially if we gleen anything from recent high profile politicians such as Anthony Weiner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Larry Craig, David Vitter and etc……cheating and lying go hand in hand. Some men cheat. But ALL cheaters lie. It’s in the handbook. Mario did not convince me.

Ramona seemed okay with Mario’s response.  I’m sure she just wanted to get it him on television denying it because why would she wait to ask on camera? Isn’t it more realistic to ask upon arrival on U.S. soil? That’s another reason why his response seemed so lame. He’s had time to repeat his answer, I am sure.  But hey. She’s married to him.  I’m not. I’ve had enough men lie to me in the past to feel skeptical.

Anyway, the balance of the show was about the normal tensions among the ladies. Alex and LuAnne (very tense lunch). Jill and Ramona (not invited to a viewing). Jill and Sonja (bankruptcy buttinski), Cindy and Sonja (Morocco photo revenge). The only person MIA was Kelly.

Next week, there’s more drama. Shocker.

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Care2: Public Pools in Hazard, KY are for Straights Only?

Mean people suck, especially when they use the Bible to justify bigotry. According Care2, a disabled homosexual couple was kicked out of a public pool in Hazard, Ky because staff said gay people were not allowed to swim there. According to the article

Shirlyn Perkins, Mending Hearts’ Executive Director, told the Kentucky Equality Federation that “Pavilion staff immediately entered the pool area and asked my clients and their staff to leave the Pavilion.”

“My clients, whom already feel ridiculed and different, left the city-owned facility crying and embarrassed for trying to participate in ‘normal’ activities that everyday ‘normal’ people do,” Perkins said of the incident.

Homophobia is bigotry, and there’s nothing Christian-like about excluding  people who have done nothing wrong. Jesus came to Earth to love, heal and forgive — not condemn. But the folks in Hazard need to be accountable for this injustice. I urge you to speak up by signing this petition at

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Real Housewives of NY – Season 4, Ep 10 – Alex’s Superpowers


Image via Wikipedia

This update with be short because not much really happened. The show picked up just after Ramona and Jill’s fight. Each lady went to their respective corners and were upset.  For some reason, the argument seemed to hit Ramona the hardest.   Sonja and Alex consoled her as she talked about how vulnerable and beaten down she felt (uh-huh). Jill, meanwhile, was determined to keep it moving.

Posh restaurant. Belly dancing (who were so amazing and turning the ladies on). Moroccan cooking. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. Okay at some point during the night, LuAnne and the brunettes are getting henna tattoos when Alex stomps downstairs in a huff.  You guessed it. She was in a huff and ready to save the day.  You see, the NEW ALEX is a conflict resolution superhero. Problem is, she’s not very good at it. Not at all.

She stomps downstairs making a production. She says she…um..needs to speak with….LuAnne…as….well…soon as you’re available. Worried, LuAnne seemed to genuinely want to know what was wrong. You could tell she seemed concerned. Turns out she was there to fight for that poor soul, Ramona. Just like the “I have a message to send” on behalf of Bethanny. It was awkward, poorly timed and just…weird. You see, Alex THINKS she’s a conflict resolution super hero. Her mission is to swoop in and save her friends from turmoil and distress. But really, she’s the quiet girl who stays out of trouble, who’s not cool and who never really knows the right thing to say at the right time.

Her super powers backfired. Kelly, of all people, told Alex she was acting weird and needed to relax.  LuAnne told her to go away and to crawl back into the cabinet and huffed away. Kelly tells her she’s weird, weird and calms her with what I think is some technique of closing her eyes. Pretty sure Kelly’s probably used it one of her horses. I won’t lie. When Kelly said, “Sometimes it’s better to just observe and not participate,” she was on point.

What was crazy was that Ramona wasn’t all upset at the time. She was fine. But Alex just needed to be a superhero.  To be honest, nothing else was really interesting. Dinner. Conflict. Alex. More conflict.  This time Ramona and LuAnne have it out again. LuAnne makes it clear she’s on her side and brings up the whole Mario fortune teller situation. Ramona can not get out of there fast enough.  “My marriage is fine,” she says over and over as get the hell out of the discussion.  I couldn’t help but feel that the Mario is the last thing Ramona wants to discuss. (Also it was odd how the cameras had Mario had a bar with Simon being flirtatious, not aware of what country Ramona was in and, frankly, not that concerned.) What’s crazy about all this how Jill was totally chill the entire night. She’d gotten her hair done (and it look sooooo cute and curly but not in an adult way). She’d left to get a cola during the henna tatoo fight.  I love how Jill’s been so incognito during most of the biggest fights.

In the end of the show, Jill comes to Ramona’s room. They agree to stop being so hard on each other (as I’d advised last week) and they made up. See? No one needed Alex to save the day.  She’s the ONLY one who thinks she has conflict resolution superpowers. Everyone else is content with her being reserved and quiet.

Next week? The ladies return to NYC where Ramona confronts/mentions the fortune teller’s comments about Mario having another woman.  Jill excludes Ramona from an event. Hurt feelings are bound to return. Alex gets into more dust ups.

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Ex-boyfriend from Hell makes anti-choice billboard in NM

Here’s the scenario. Girl meets guy. Sparks fly. Happy relationship. Drama. Fighting. Breaking up. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.  Regret. That’s the way relationships are SUPPOSED to end.

You don’t drive down the street and spot a billboard of your ex-boyfriend claiming he’s the victim of the abortion you never had! Well, that’s what Greg Fultz (ex-boyfriend from hell) did.  He made a advertisement where he’s pictured holding a a blacked image of a baby to indicate his allegedly aborted child. First of all, it’s creepy, sensational and a huge violation of this woman’s privacy.The billboard is creepy as hell.  This billboard is right wing harassment at its worst! The advert makes Greg Fultz and anti-choice groups look psychotic and desperate.  I can see why their relationship didn’t work out.  It’s also frightening to imagine this happening to me or a friend.  This guy raised money and made the  billboard without knowing if his ex-girlfriend had an abortion or not.  Originally, he planned to have girlfriend’s name on the advert. If you look at the billboard it says it’s sponsored by a group named C.A.N.I. that is similar to Nani, which is his ex’s name.  It’s a reminder that women should be careful in analyzing potential partners.  Domestic violence is a real issue for pregnant women.  One in five will be abused during pregnancy.  If this guy would go to these great lengths, just imagine the drama if they had a child together.  This guy seems creepy and possibly dangerous.

The billboard shows a lack of respect for women. Taking extreme measures to “out’ a woman’s abortion is beyond unacceptable.  For the past year, conservatives have  shamed black women and recently Latinas about abortion rates. Yet, anti-choice advocates are fighting to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the nation’s biggest birth control providers.  It shows a sense of entitlement people feel over a woman’s womb and a lack of respect for their life choices. These tactics don’t help anyone. They simply reinforce the notion that women’s bodies should belong to someone else: the state, the community or a husband/boyfriend. But women, themselves, can’t be trusted to control their own bodies.

The real issue is health privacy.  The media describes this as an issue of free speech. No. This is about privacy and harassment.  Whether the women in the middle of all this had an abortion or a miscarriage is not our business. It’s between her and her doctor.  This man’s effort to make himself out to be a victim is serious male entitlement.  The local courts ruled the billboard should be taken down by June 17, which Greg Fultz says he will not do.

All of this sounds like a nightmare. I feel sorry for the ex-girlfriend. I’m fairly certain she wishes they never met.  We’ll see how this plays out.

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