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Racial bias at a Philadelphia Starbucks shows how far we have to go

Protesters gather outside a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Sunday, April 15, 2018, where two black men were arrested Thursday after Starbucks employees called police to say the men were trespassing. The arrest prompted accusations of racism on social media. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson posted a lengthy statement Saturday night, calling the situation "disheartening" and that it led to a "reprehensible" outcome. (AP Photo/Ron Todt)

Starbucks has tried harder than most companies to further interracial understanding, most notably through its failed “Race Together” initiative that tried to spark cross-racial conversations among employees.

That positive idea relied on the initiative being taken from the bottom up, which psychologically was a non-starter. It flopped.

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Other companies have achieved far more success using a top-down approach, such as hiring firms that specialize in helping companies avoid the kind of bad publicity Starbucks is suffering now, and through classroom sessions aimed at sensitizing employees in how to get along across the racial divide.

That said, the recent fiasco at a Starbucks in Philadelphia sabotaged the company’s public relations image. Two black men were arrested there without cause due to racial profiling by an employee. CEO Kevin Johnson has apologized and sworn to remedy the situation, but the harm had been done, as Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell wrote on Tuesday.

I am reminded of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s pronouncement that “Americans are cowards” when it comes to discussing and hopefully resolving racial issues. Holder was denounced for saying this. Yet the kind of incident we saw at Starbucks keeps arising. Was Holder wrong?

Schoolchildren are taught to sing this line from “America The Beautiful:” ” . . . and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”

Do we live in that America any longer? Have we ever?

Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park

Syrian air strike justified

On Friday night, U.S., British and French military forces joined in making air strikes on three chemical-weapons sites in Syria. The bombings were in retaliation for Syria’s apparent chemical attack on its own people in the city of Ghouta, where 45 people were killed and hundreds more injured. Over the weekend, some commentators questioned the retaliation. One wonders: Would they have questioned the air strikes if they personally had lost a child or another family member in Ghouta?

Christine Craven, Evergreen Park

Trump should pardon Blago

It is appalling that the U.S. Supreme Court won’t even consider former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s appeal of his criminal conviction. While I never voted for the man, he has paid the price for his indiscretion, and his wife and children deserve to be recognized as innocent victims. I can only hope that President Donald Trump will pardon the man.

Mike Koskiewicz, Portage Park