Sometimes a story is so uplifting, I just have to share.
Last month, a story came out of Philadelphia (the City of Brotherly Love) about two young men who had arranged to meet a third man at a coffee shop. It is something many of us have done. Coffee shops have become the equivalent of the old town square; places to gather, share a conversation - some people even work out of coffee shops. These men were meeting to discuss a real estate investment.
The young men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, are black and the manager of the coffee shop found their presence threatening enough that he called the police on them. Rashon and Donte were accused of trespassing, led away in handcuffs, held at the jail for hours before being let go without being charged.
The firestorm over this blatant racial profiling went around the world. And this time the response was immediate.
The CEO of Starbucks apologized immediately, the mayor and Police Chief of Philadelphia have also apologized.
These young men could have demanded a huge settlement from the city and from Starbucks for the way they were humiliated and mistreated. They could have cashed in on the public sentiment that was overwhelmingly in their favour, but instead they have taken a bad situation and found a way to make something good of it.
Starbucks has announced that they will be closing many of their locations for an afternoon later this month in order to train hundreds of thousands of their employees in unconscious bias. They will also be giving the two young men scholarships to attend Arizona State University.
Rashon and Donte settled with the City of Philadelphia by asking for a symbolic $1 each. Philadelphia has also committed $200,000 towards a program for training young entrepreneurs.
There is hope in this story: hope that we can find ways to make right relations with each other, hope that good can come out a difficult situation, hope that we can find unity even in our diversity.