Photo: Shutterstock
  /  06.12.2020

Starbucks has changed its policy regarding Black Lives Matter gear after coming under fire yesterday (June 11). The coffee giant previously prohibited its employees from wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts or pins, according to an internal memo acquired by BuzzFeed.

“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,” the memo claimed.

Furthermore, the company stated that wearing gear in support of the Black Lives Matter movement did not comply with its ongoing policy against advocating for a “political, religious or personal issue.” However, several employees noted to BuzzFeed that Starbucks allows and even provides buttons that support LGBTQ issues, such as marriage equality.

“We respect all of our partners’ opinions and beliefs, and encourage them to bring their whole selves to work while adhering to our dress code policy,” a Starbucks spokesperson told BuzzFeed. The spokesperson reportedly also said that while the company is committed to fighting against “systemic racism, ” the dress code ensures “a safe and welcoming” environment.

The memo promoted many employees, customers and hip hop and R&B artists — such as SZA, Ari Lennox and Reason — to call for a boycott against the coffee brand. Additionally, SZA and Lennox used their social media platforms to draw attention to black-owned coffee and tea shops that customers can support instead.

“Also we boycotting Starbucks,” SZA tweeted on Thursday (June 11). “DROP THE NAME OF BLACK OWNED COFFEE SHOPS AND TEA BRANDS BELOW.”

On Friday (June 12), Starbucks caved to the pressure and reversed their policy rule. Employees will now be allowed to wear Black Lives Matter attire and the company will be distributing t-shirts designed by their “Black Partner Network.”

“Together with our Black Partner Network, we’ve designed a Starbucks t-shirt for every U.S. and Canada partner to express our solidarity during this historic time,” Starbucks Partners announced on Twitter.

“Until these arrive, we’ve heard you want to show your support, so just be you. Wear your BLM pin or t-shirt. We trust you to do what’s right while never forgetting Starbucks is a welcoming third place where all are treated with dignity and respect.”

See some reactions to Starbucks’ initial policy below.

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All black everything!!!!!

A post shared by Ari Lennox (@arilennox) on


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