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Alexandra Erin @alexandraerin
, 14 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
So, here is a thing that is going to be super obvious to a lot of people (mostly the ones affected by it) and so not obvious that it gets "What is the basis for your statement?" responses from others (mostly the ones not), bu...
When a coffee shop manager decides that someone is "loitering" versus "being a customer", they're not using a definition of "customer" that relies on "Has this person bought something yet?"
Visibly queer though I am, when I walk into a Starbucks and collapse into a chair to rest a few minutes before I get up and order something, I'm a customer because the baristas and managers can look at me and see: white, looks like she has some money.
I'm a customer if I come in to use their wifi to check my email or if I duck in and out just to use the bathroom (which I might, because my Starbucks at least has single occupancy unisex rooms).
Starbucks is a hospitality industry company. They don't just purvey coffee, they are selling an atmosphere and an experience, and any use of their facilities I make--the chair, the climate control, the wifi, the plumbing--is an investment they make in my future spending habits.
My money, my presence, is valuable to them. Even if I'm just sitting there, they expect other "customers" like me to see me sitting there and think, "What a welcoming, comfortable place to hang out."
The two men who were arrested for what we might call "loitering with intent to order", they looked at them and saw: someone taking up space that could be occupied by a customer.
They did not see the use of their facilities (down to the square footage of floor space the men occupied) as an investment in these gentlemen's future spending, but as a wasted expenditure. Resources intended for "customers".
It's utterly paradoxical but I guarantee the same people who called the cops would, if the men gone directly to the counter and bought the most expensive drink, elicited an internal reaction of "I hope these guys hurry up and leave, they're slowing down the line for Customers."
The idea that businesses, the marketplace, "only cares about one color: green" is a pernicious myth that ignores the fact that the marketplace is made up of human actors, who have all the biases of individuals.
The same reason the success of movies like Get Out, Girls Trip, and Black Panther took "everybody" by surprise - whole industries have been making irrational decisions based on the idea that a white dollar is worth more than any other, and they have been doing it all along.
And it's not just a business decision, not just a branding aesthetic decision about what sector of the marketplace to focus on. It's not neutral and it's not harmless. It springs from racism and it reinforces racism, and it has real and dire consequences.
I don't have a big solution for this since it's a societal problem, but I guess if you are white and you work in hospitality you can check yourself on this. And if you're a customer? I guess try to signal that you see everybody else in the store as a customer, too.
I mean, don't make the other customers uncomfortable, but make sure that if you're acknowledging some of your fellow customers (smiling, nodding. holding doors), you're giving the same acknowledgment to everyone.
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