“The culture of the coffee-stop empire.”
This is just an observatory piece of being at a Starbucks on a Friday night in the T Dot. My unorthodox biz partners & I, decked in modern hip-hop attire; hoodies, loose fitting jeans, and portable mp3 players walk into a Starbucks in one of the moderate-to-affluent parts of our city (* Note, I don’t know about your city, but there are no Starbucks in our hoods). Naturally, when 3 big black guys walk into such an establishment, there are the usual quick glances away from us, and awkward pauses in their conversations with each other. Which I understand, sadly, because you know, we are out of our element – however I’m not writing about that … been there, done that, ya dig?

So after getting hot beverages that were obtained/stolen/exploited from Africa (topic for another day), we sat down & got to business. After getting work done & cracking jokes, it hit me that this Starbucks was jumping: big line-ups & the cash register, friends coming in rocking the Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, and American Eagle, and dudes rocking the California Beach Boy look that Starbucks is into a bit more than selling coffee. Some patrons were studying amidst elevator & jazz rhythmics, while other patrons were discussing the previous week’s events with their friends. What was interesting, besides the fact that they were predominantly white, is that they dressed similar, represented the “Millennial” generation – cohort 1 & 2, and all embraced & understood (consciously or not) the point of this piece. Starbucks is not about selling coffee, Starbucks sells social experiences. People literally were dressing up, pulling up in upscale vehicles, and not just to order marked-up coffee, but to meet friends, gossip, engage each other, pretty much to ‘connect’.

This is just my logic of the $7.8 billion dollar a year coffee shop, and why they nicely decorate their interior with earth tone colors, play non-popular music, and use distinct language (grandé, tall).

So now I guess I know why they looked @ us the way they did; its not the usual racial prejudice mixed with a dash of stereotyping.

We did not fit in with their social experience & the cultural norms that come with it.

But F*** ’em anyway, I’m about re-defining the box, not assimilating to it, bitches!

One thought on “Starblocks”

  1. This is an interesting observation. I wonder if the reaction would have been the same, had it been a group of black females who had walked into starbucks dressed in urban clothing. My guess is that they would have gotten a few stares, but nothing close to the stares you and your friends received. Not only is this an example of a cultural stereotype in action, but moreso a racial stereotype. It’s not just about the hip hop culture you represented, but about black urban men who are perceived as uneducated drug dealing womanizers. I urge you and your friends to let this serve as your motivation. Continue to give them something to look at and talk about by being positive black men.

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