Not only did Starbucks close 8,000 of its locations on Thursday for company-wide racial bias training, but Common also made an appearance. The training follows an incident from earlier this year when two black men were arrested while waiting for a friend at a Starbucks location.
Common’s part will include narrating a video for the staff to watch. For him, his decision to be involved in the training was fundamental: he believes that a black man should be the one who speaks on the significance of anti-racial bias. The Chicago native appeared on Good Morning America to further explain why it was essential that he takes part in training process.
“Starbucks was just a microcosm of how black people have been dehumanized and I wanted to be a part of that conversation,” he said, commenting on how it’s valuable to “have a black man standing up and saying what we need.”
Common first got to know Starbucks’ executive chairman Howard Schultz after Michael Brown was killed in St. Louis, Missouri in 2014. “After Michael Brown was killed, [Howard] was really trying to figure out how to get police and the communities together. And one of the things, one of the initiatives, I worked with him on was getting jobs for people in underserved communities,” Common remarked.
“His heart is in the right place but it has to be more than just the conversation; which I think the conversation today is a step but, for me as a black man, we want to see action and want to see you going to the communities and... team up with people who are doing things in the community and figure out from these communities how can you really serve them.”
Watch the clip below.