Starbucks has reversed a policy that prohibited baristas from wearing attire or accessories featuring the Black Lives Matter movement after backlash and calls for boycotts of the coffee chain, CNBC reported.
The initial policy specifically addressed the reason why Black Lives Matter attire was banned, saying “there are agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles of the Black Lives Matter movement–and in certain circumstances, intentionally re-purpose them to amplify divisiveness.”
Starbucks bans personal, political or religious clothing or accessories, but makes exceptions for LGBTQ rights and marriage equality.
After some people online called for a boycott of Starbucks over the Black Lives Matter ban, Starbucks has not only backed off that policy but it will produce and distribute Black Lives Matter T-shirts to its workers.
“Black Lives Matter,” a tweet from Starbucks read. “We continue to listen to our partners and communities and their desire to stand for justice together. The Starbucks Black Partner Network co-designed t-shirts with this graphic that will soon be sent to 250,000+ store partners.”
Earlier this month, even while preventing employees from wearing Black Lives Matter gear, Starbucks issued a statement that included the phrase “black lives matter,” although it didn’t explicitly reference the organization by the same name.
“Black Lives Matter,” a Starbucks tweet read. “We are committed to being a part of change.”
Starbucks is no stranger to race controversy. In 2018, two black men were arrested for sitting in a Starbucks in Philadelphia without purchasing an item. They were reportedly waiting for a friend to arrive. The manager who called police on them left the company shortly after.
The two men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, reached financial settlements with both the city of Philadelphia and with Starbucks. Starbucks closed all its stores one day in May of that year to conduct anti-bias training.