The Awesome Reason People Are Telling Starbucks Baristas Their Names Are #BlackLivesMatter
Activists nationwide are organizing Black Lives Matter protests after the police killings of black men Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. But some coffee-loving activists have found another way to spread the word — by giving "Black Lives Matter" as their name when ordering at Starbucks.
By declaring "Black Lives Matter" as one's name, a barista will have to shout "Black Lives Matter" into a busy store when a customer's order is ready.
People have used this trick at Starbucks during previous points in the Black Lives Matter movement — Twitter users @fatsoburgers and @zimmboni noted that Christmas cup supporters used a similar strategy to get attention in the winter. But the trend to give BLM as a name has picked up steam since the recent spate of shootings.
Facebook user Lex Cross posted about changing his name to "Black Lives Matter" in the Starbucks app and the post went viral, with over 45,000 shares within four days.
Others have followed suit:
And more plan to:
But not everyone is thrilled with this everyday activism. One barista commented on Cross' Facebook post to condemn the idea.
"Making a barista sound incredibly dumb by shouting BLM into a crowded room does not help your cause, you're looking to make someone feel humiliated for simply doing their job," she wrote.
One Chicago-based Starbucks barista who wished to remain anonymous said she counted 43 customers who gave their names as "Black Lives Matter" during her Sunday shift. "I immediately started counting during my shift once the third person did it," she said on Twitter through a direct message.
The reaction was mixed. "Just by reading facial expressions I could tell some were touched by it, even cracked a smile, and seemed warm about it," she said. But others customers — and baristas — were less amused. "It was easy to see how uncomfortable [other] people were. I noticed a couple roll their eyes here and there."
The Starbucks barista noted some of her fellow employees were annoyed by the stunt. "None of my co-workers were against people asking for BLM to be said before their drink but I could tell some of them looked and felt extremely uncomfortable saying it. It was as if they weren't against it but still didn't believe in it."
Whether baristas like the trend, people are taking to Twitter to spread the word.
This grassroots BLM activism stands in contrast to Starbucks' flawed campaign to address racism last year. In March 2015, Starbucks asked baristas to write "Race Together" on cups and to discuss racism with customers. A for effort, but the campaign was a flop, Eater reported.
If Starbucks truly wants to bring race relations to customers' attention, the BLM cups could be an organic way to reenter the conversation. Digiday noted that brands are more slowly and less universally embracing the #BlackLivesMatter movement, especially compared to the #LoveWins movement in support of LGBTQ rights.
It's easier to talk about love than race, Tamara Keller, COO of Los Angeles-based agency Sax, told Digiday. Race is much more complicated and when white people or brands speak up on the issue, it can seem "disingenuous" or "calculated," she said.
Will people start giving "All Lives Matter" as their name the next time they hit Starbucks too? If so, your mundane coffee run could get a whole lot more political.