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Starbucks halts race campaign amid ‘cascade of negativity’

Published: Updated:

Starbucks has halted its campaign to mix discussions of racism with its coffee after the initiative met with skepticism and sarcastic put-downs.

In an open letter saying the “Race Together” campaign was ended Sunday, CEO Howard Schultz summed up the effort as “always just the catalyst for a much broader and longer-term conversation.”

Schultz last week had baristas serve coffee in cups bearing “Race Together” slogan to open the discussions, saying the United States needs a “new level of sensitivity, understanding around these issues.”

Instead, the company’s senior vice president of global communications Corey duBrowa said he was inundated with such a “cascade of negativity” that he temporarily shut down his Twitter account last week.

Many saw the initiative as a publicity stunt, and found irony in low-paid servers moderating a national debate on race.

But Schultz said he hasn’t given up on the idea, insisting the initiative was “far from over.”

“We have a number of planned Race Together activities in the weeks and months to come,” he said.