Letter to the Black Star Project
Good afternoon Mr. Phillip Jackson,
I just read your article “From Boycott to Victory” and the segment with Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, in the Black Press USA publication.
Mr. Jackson how I so wished that I had read your piece you did with Mr. Schultz earlier because I experienced an unfortunate incident while in uniform and on duty as an African American police officer in New Haven, Connecticut 3 years ago.
My story goes as follows, which was quite disturbing in how the results of the incident was swept under the rug because I refused the monetary settlement. This incident involving my ordeal was solely based on a simple apology I was asking for. Which I have never received to this day in light of the Starbucks Philadelphia incident and apology.
One early morning after inspection/roll call my partner had asked me to meet him at Starbucks in the heart of the business district in New Haven, Connecticut. I hesitated only because I’m not a coffee drinker. I decided to meet him and another officer.
As I entered the Starbucks before sitting down I approached a white female employee to ask if I could have the key to the bathroom. When I asked the employee if I could have the key to the bathroom she replied, “the key is in a safe locked and she could not get it.”
I took her at her word and thought to myself perhaps I should use the bathroom next door at another establishment. I left without my partner’s knowledge and then returned. As I returned, my partner asked me where I had gone. I told him and he said you know we can use the bathroom here.
He then said to me, “the woman (employee) gave the key to a white guy and before you returned he gave the key back.” I approached her and asked her why I could not get the key. She turned away from me and did not give me a reason and walked away.
I notified Starbucks corporate offices and was given a complaint number (provided) and that an investigation would be launched. The employee was interviewed and she had no response to give investigators and immediately quit.
Starbucks Corp. wanted to offer a $3,000.00 settlement with the condition I sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). I never signed off on the NDA. Mr. Jackson, this type of treatment was embarrassing and was a humiliating experience because it was not about the money.
I wanted to share this experience as an African American to you in hopes that I could put some closure to this unfortunate incident. As a person who grew up during the lunch counter boycotts and Jim Crow. I never would have ever thought I would be a victim of such treatment which has historical precedence.
Thank you Mr. Jackson for your well written article and just maybe I might one day be afforded an apology from Mr. Schultz for what happened to me or to be a part of the discussion on 5/29/18 when Starbucks are closed for a day to have a discussion on cultural awareness.
Jeffrey A. Fletcher
New Haven, Connecticut