Starbucks employees didn't have to make any skinny caramel macchiatos on Tuesday afternoon. Instead, they watched short documentaries, wrote in notebooks, and discussed their own feelings about racism and bias when more than 8,000 stores closed for training.
Most of the material focused on showing employees what it's like to be black in America — getting followed in stores and even being afraid to go outside. Starbucks set up the training after a Philadelphia store manager called the cops on two black men after they were in the store for just two minutes without ordering any drinks, prompting protests and online backlash against the chain.
But for black employees, was the bias training helpful? Or worse, could it have been traumatic?
It's hard to know how your average baristas — black, white, or otherwise — actually feel about the training. Starbucks won't allow media to interview them. Instead, the company invited outlets to talk to a small group of district managers, who all seemed amped about the training.
"It was a really great experience. It was a really great interaction that I got to have with some of my peers," said one district manager, Carrie Teeter.
VICE News visited the tightly controlled media session to see just how optimistic Starbucks is about training people not to be racist.
This segment originally aired May 29, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.