The recent incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks in which the police were called to forcibly remove two loitering black men has again brought to the surface the dilemmas faced by businesses when dealing with the underclass, particularly black males. .
On the one hand, failing to keep out this troubled “clientele” can instantly destroy any restaurant, retail store, public library or even a bus terminal. Women in particularly rationally avoid places filled with those of poor hygiene and a reputation for hair-trigger personal aggression. The Philadelphia Starbucks manager undeniably knew the consequence if local blacks converted it to hangout to keep warm (or cool) while safely transacting illicit business. A tip-point would eventually be reached when even those lost in their iPads would depart rather than work in a de facto homeless shelter. Headquarters would shut the store down and everybody would be unemployed.
On the other hand, as Starbucks unfortunately discovered, kicking the bums out risks accusations of racism and dreadful boycott-inviting publicity, not to mention paying off hustlers to exorcise the racist demons. Starbucks is hardly alone in its vulnerability. A Toronto Chinese restaurant that asked blacks, and only blacks, to pay in advance was fined $10,000 though this policy undoubtedly reflected experience with eat-and-run customers.
Similarly threatened businesses have long devised clever counter-measures. A recent story tells of how a California 7-Even discouraged loiters and panhandlers by playing classical music. The franchise owner, Sukhi Sandhu, even reported how his paying customers now felt safer when surrounded by classical music, including hearing it outside the store. To be sure, it is unlikely than any of these newly comforted customers can distinguish Handel from Bach, but at some visceral level they grasp that the riff-raff loath these sounds and instead prefer local “Smoke and Coke” convenience stores featuring Drake or Lil Pump.
Let’s return to Starbucks. Unfortunately, a restaurant’s first line of defense against such an invasion—its menu—is useless here. No tinkering or raising prices will deter those disinterested in buying anything. The opposite may be true—higher prices to discourage down-market customers only creates more vacant seats available for loiterers. And forget about posting “customer only” for restrooms—as we know, it’s an invitation to trouble. And while playing Bach might help, it is just a first step.
How, then, can Starbucks survive? The answer is known to everybody familiar with today’s campus craziness: toxic, suffocating whiteness. In other words, make Starbucks the epitome of white Western Civilization, a much cheaper strategy than endless anti-bias braining and one easily defended legally. Just decorate Starbucks as if it were a Waspy library as one might find at an Ivy League university or an exclusive club, for example, New York City’s august University Club. Dark wooden shelves filled with well-worn classics, from Plato and Shakespeare to James Joyce. To satisfy those demanding diversity and inclusion, a few works by Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin and for the feminists, books by Virginia Woolf or Hannah Arendt will serve. No doubt, Starbucks can buy these shopworn classics by the ton and management will hardly care if they are stolen.
Add a small library table with an old-fashioned monster unabridged dictionaries and nearby would be an antique-looking, heavy-on-the-Latin place name globe on its own mahogany pedestal. Scattered about would be alabaster marble-like busts of Homer, Horace, Milton and the like and reproductions of 18th century English landscapes. And why not add a few well-known European newspapers such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine to further enhance the “intellectual” atmosphere. The check-out registers would offer a few elegant but affordable classics from the high-brow Penguin Hardcover series. Add a conspicuous community bulletin board announcing future poetry readings or openings in an all-vegan, multicultural daycare program for toddlers.
Now, for the coup de grâce: science. No Starbucks will lack handsome portraits of Archimedes, Galileo, Newton, Einstein or that Teuton from Central Casting, Max Planck. A few lithographs of vintage scientific instruments or famous equations will complete the message—Attention: you have entered the Western Civilization Zone and, in case you failed to notice, these all-stars are all European White Males. And to drive the point home, multiple clocks showing precise times will be everywhere while baristas might inform customers that their latte will be ready in seven minutes and fourteen seconds and apologize if its six seconds late. What could be more “white” than a fetish over punctuality?
These are only possibilities and the local terrain will suggest modification. In some venues only baroque music alone might do the trick; elsewhere menus might have to be partially in French or baristas would dress in “professorial” tweed jackets and colorful bow-ties.
Conceivably, businesses specializing in “toxic whiteness” would be hired to manage unwelcome clienteles. It is hardly rocket science. After all, if Ralph Lauren (originally a Bronx boy born Ralph Lipshitz whose father was a housepainter) can successfully mimic the English aristocracy, anybody can do it. Whites have overcome far greater obstacles.
Put it this way—blacks are absolutely right when the complain that they often feel excluded by whiteness. But, the opposite is equally true—whites feel excluded by blackness. Each to their own.