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Starbucks Brewing Red Cup Controversy

Why People Are So Frothed Up About Starbucks

From time to time an ethics student of mine writes an excellent blog for the course and I post it online. Today’s comes from Danielle Dacanay. It presents an interesting view of Starbucks “red cup” controversy.

Many believe that Jesus performed miracles and died for the sins that humankind makes today. Not much is said about his views on the Pumpkin Spice Latte drink.

I’m a huge fan of Christmas and the holiday season, but I think the controversy regarding the Starbucks new red cup is ludicrous. People all over social media are venting about the problems of the new cup and promoting the idea that Starbucks “removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.” Yes, that’s the answer. Starbucks hates Jesus. You might ask why there is so much attention focused on such an insignificant issue. The answer: no one knows.

Is it true that we have the right to talk a company’s image down because they changed their usual holiday appearance? It’s not fair to assume that because we have that right, we should be able to state whatever we feel. There is a difference between what we have the right to do and what the right thing to do is.

Our culture today is focused so much on social media and entertainment news that people begin to prioritize social issues the wrong way. While the controversy over the Starbucks cup is hilarious and entertaining, it should most definitely not be the center of our attention. We do have more serious issues to deal with.

But, this is a blog so let’s look at Starbucks reason for the red cup. “Creating a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity is one of the core values of Starbucks, and each year during the holidays the company aims to bring customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season,” the company wrote in a press release. “Starbucks will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world.”

This is their goal: diversity. The company has made the decision to express religiously neutral Christmas greetings with a plain, red cup. They are appealing to a broader and more diverse consumer base across the nation. Even though their decision with the cup is most likely motivated by profit, it is still very meaningful. It’s important to recognize the justice done here. Starbucks believes in the fairness and equality of people’s religious beliefs. One religion is not to be deemed more important than another. People need to recognize that Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated during the winter season. Now, Starbucks has made the step to embrace these cultural differences.

“This year’s design is another way Starbucks is inviting customers to create their own stories with a red cup that mimics a blank canvas,” the company said. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

Welcomes all of our stories you say? You mean, you aren’t purposefully trying to “offend” anyone? It’s plain and simple to see what’s going on here, Starbucks does not hate Christmas. How could they with their Christmas tree ornaments, advent calendars, CD’s of Christmas music, Christmas themed gift cards, Christmas cookies, and giant displays of their Christmas blend coffee. It hits you like a kick to your face every time you walk into a Starbucks shop.

Maybe this is the reason why so many Christian’s are outraged by the cup. They are no longer in the spotlight. Well, you know what? It’s time to embrace our country’s cultural differences. It is just assumed that everyone in America celebrates Christmas, and maybe that is due to the fact that Christmas is advertised everywhere. On billboards, television shows, magazine ads, and songs on the radio! No one ever greets you Happy Hanukkah at the mall. You would probably feel awkward and not know how to respond. I sure know I would feel out of place.

This is how the smaller population of the U.S. who do not celebrate Christmas feel. They are not represented in our culture. It’s equal representation of our beliefs that Starbucks is trying to promote. Why do people want to make such a big deal about it? Because it’s different. But being different is what we need. Our country would not be the place that it is today without the changes that happened years ago. Our differences have made us strong, yet here we are arguing about how Starbucks does not want to promote the Christmas spirit.

It’s called equality for a reason! Our differences make us who we are. We need to celebrate each other’s differences so that we can grow individually as a person. When we tend to be close-minded about things, we stick to only what we know and start to judge others when their ideas do not align with ours. This is the reason behind the entire Starbucks controversy. Being closed-minded. People are now blaming Starbucks for changing when we do not want to change the way we think. It’s all the wrong way around. It is us who need change.

So when you buy that tall coffee or a venti-sized Pumpkin Spiced Latte, remember to be open-minded. Do not force the baristas to say Merry Christmas to you. Understand that the plain, red cup is a symbol for change. A symbol that embraces diversity and different religious beliefs. It’s time for change.

Who knew that it would all start with one single red cup?

Blog by Danielle Dacanay and posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on December 15, 2015. Professor Mintz is on the faculty of the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He also blogs at: Ms. Dacanay is a student at Cal Poly.

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