ASDIC Executive Director's Letter to the Editor of the Star Tribune

Here's the link to the Star Tribune's Letters page, where ASDIC Executive Director Okogyeamon's letter to the editor appeared in response to a racial profiling incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks. The letter is copied below.


Racial bias training can’t just be left as local endeavor

In response to “A better way to respond to implicit racial bias” (April 26, by Duane Johnson), I am concerned about his recommendation that “Starbucks should have given district stores an option on how they can address racial bias training.”

This pushes responsibility to the local level without considering local capacity. There is no guarantee that Starbucks store managers will know where to start. It’s Starbucks’ corporate responsibility to help local leaders identify community resources and provide guidelines about what managers should look for in quality training. Corporate also could provide online support, such as readings and podcasts by national experts.

I agree with much of Johnson’s analysis and don’t expect much from Starbucks’ “one afternoon of racial bias training.” Eliminating bias and overcoming racism is transformative work, and transformation doesn’t happen in an afternoon. This work takes a commitment of time and of heart. Education is necessary but not sufficient. A big part of transformation is caring about people and the issue. It’s about relationships and sharing stories. That’s the work that is local.

Herbert A. Perkins, St. Paul

The writer is an anti-racism educator.