By Linda Dahlstrom and Heidi Peiper / Starbucks Newsroom
SEATTLE – The painted letters are bold against beige canvases, making sure the message is absolutely clear: Hate has no home here, they proclaim.
The banners, made by Starbucks partners, were carried by a group of about 50 on Monday morning and unfurled from the top balcony at Starbucks Support Center in Seattle, so all who pass through the common area will see the message of solidarity.
“Every one of us on the planet shares one important thing in common, the human experience. We must covet that. For our stores and for our communities,” wrote Kevin Johnson, Starbucks chief executive officer, in an email that went out to partners this weekend in the wake of the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that took the lives of 11 parents, brothers, husbands and wives. “We must each look to find more ways to support one another and understand our differences — and celebrate them. As we have said, hate has no home here.”
It’s a statement of safety and inclusion that has been needed often in recent times. Prior to a shooter walking through the doors of the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday, two African American grandparents were killed in a grocery store near Louisville, Ky.
Moments before, the alleged shooter had tried to enter a predominantly black church, which had only shortly before been filled with a congregation of 70. It was an echo of the 2015 shooting where nine were killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.
Also last week, multiple mail bombs were sent to high profile politicians and supporters.
In the face of it all, across the country, Americans have come together to say the kind of hate that fuels those actions must be stopped. In the midst of grief, the quest for common ground – and hope -- is more important than ever, noted Johnson in his email titled “Choose love and compassion.”
“I find hope in knowing that faith, race, gender and political differences can find common connection and community at Starbucks,” he wrote.
“Hate has no home here,” was also the theme of a forum for partners led by Howard Schultz, now chairman emeritus of Starbucks, last year after a spate of violence, hatred and empowerment of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Schultz brought a small rock he had brought back from his visit to Auschwitz concentration camp 18 years ago and passed it around the room as he spoke, a tangible reminder of rampant hate.
“I know we are better than this,” he said at the time. “It is hard in the midst of such a storm to maintain an optimistic view. But I raise my hand, and I say I am optimistic about our country and the true promise of America.”
Megan Futej, a community manager at Starbucks, said the Tree of Life shooting has affected her deeply. “I’m not normally one who is short for words but since Saturday I’ve struggled to find the right ones. I didn’t know the 11 we lost. I don’t have any connection to Squirrel Hill. But as a Jew, we’re all connected,” she said. “So many of us are mourning these losses as if they were part of our own family, because they were.”
It’s important to turn toward hope, even in such difficult times, she said, and focus on people who are working toward kindness and change.
Monday morning, tears filled her eyes when she saw the banners. “They were so big and bold, and I could feel the love,” she said. “We just want to feel loved and seen and supported. I feel all of that today.”
For more information on this story, contact Linda Dahlstrom