Starbucks reverses decision to ban employees from wearing Black Lives Matter attire

Company is creating its own Black Lives matter T-shirts for employees

Starbucks reverses ban on Black Lives Matter attire for employees (Getty)
Starbucks reverses ban on Black Lives Matter attire for employees (Getty)

Starbucks has announced it will allow employees to wear attire supporting the Black Lives Matter movement after reports the chain had banned associated pins and T-shirts sparked widespread backlash.

On Wednesday, BuzzFeed first reported Starbucks had banned employees from wearing clothing or accessories related to Black Lives Matter because it “could be misunderstood and potentially incite violence,” according to an internal memo.

In the memo, the coffee chain also cited its dress code, which states that “partners may only wear buttons or pins issued to the partner by Starbucks for special recognition or for advertising a Starbucks-sponsored event or promotion” and that employees are not allowed to wear buttons or pins that “advocate a political, religious or personal issue”.

The memo also referred to remarks from Zing Shaw, the company’s vice president for inclusion and diversity, who further explained the company’s decision to ban attire related to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“She explains there are agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles of the Black Lives Matter movement - and in certain circumstances, intentionally re-purpose them to amplify divisiveness,” the memo stated.

In response to the company’s ban, which came days after Starbucks had expressed its support for the black community, many customers called for a Starbucks boycott.

On Friday, the coffee company announced its Starbucks Black Partner Network would be co-designing new Black Lives Matter T-shirts for employees with graphics that read: “Time for change,” “It’s not a moment, it’s a movement,” and “No justice no peace” to “demonstrate our allyship and show we stand together in unity”.

Until the shirts arrive, the company said it will allow employees to wear their own pins or T-shirts in support of the movement.

“Until these arrive, we’ve heard you want to show your support, so just be you,” Starbucks said in a statement. “Wear your BLM pin or T-shirt. We are so proud of your passionate support of our common humanity.”

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