An unjust arrest at Starbucks. A national conversation. Now? A cash reward of $1.

In April, two black men were arrested and led out of a Philadelphia Starbucks for absolutely no reason.  

On April 12, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson arrived at the coffee shop a few minutes before a business meeting. Nelson asked to use the bathroom but was denied because he hadn't bought anything. He returned to the table where he and Robinson were waiting for their associate. They were approached, The Washington Post reports, by the white manager only moments later. Her message: Buy something.

By now you probably know what happened next: Unsatisfied with whatever answer she was given, the manager called 911 and asked for help. Two men, she told the dispatcher, were refusing to buy something or leave. Nelson and Robinson were handcuffed and escorted out of the cafe by policemen. Then, they were taken to jail.  


A recording of the arrest instantly went viral, with the public responding in outrage to both the manager's actions (how many of us have sat in Starbucks for hours without ordering so much as a water?) and the police's response.    

The pair recollected the traumatic incident on ABC news:

Nelson and Robinson have now reached a settlement with the city. It's a study in healing, forgiveness, and inspiration.

Though the two men could have sued Philadelphia — especially after both the mayor and the police commissioner admitted that the situation hadn't been handled correctly — they agreed to a settlement no one expected. Each man accepted a symbolic $1 from the city. In addition, The Washington Post reports, they've asked Philadelphia to fund a $200,000 grant to support area high school students with entrepreneurial dreams. According to ABC News, the mens' arrest records will be expunged. Starbucks, for their part, will pay for Nelson and Robinson's college education as part of a mostly undisclosed financial settlement. The pair will meet with former Attorney General Eric Holder, who's assisting Starbucks in creating a training on racial bias.

The injustice was horrific. For many it brought two things into stark relief for the first time.

One: Racial bias and discrimination happen on a moment-to-moment basis in America.

While some still argue that Nelson and Robinson must have done something wrong in order to have been escorted out by police (just check the comments on any news story about their arrest), the reality is the only thing the two men were guilty of was being on the wrong end of someone's prejudice. And that kind of prejudice makes what happened to Nelson and Robinson an everyday occurrence.  

Shortly after the Nelson and Robinson's story blew up, a piece in The New York Times detailed the many incidents of racial bias that had occurred in the Rittenhouse Square area of Philadelphia — where the men had been arrested.

"Although black people account for just 3% of the residents in that police subdistrict, they made up two-thirds of the people stopped by the police in the first half of 2017, according to figures collected by the American Civil Liberties Union," The Times reported.  

Protestors at a Philadelphia Starbucks rally against the discrimination of Nelson and Robinson. Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images.

Two: We must all work to end this type of commonplace oppression.

After the president and CEO of Starbucks met with the men to offer an apology, Starbucks announced that it would close 8,000 of its stores on May 29 for "racial bias training." While one day is hardly enough time to transform the crisis of systemic racism, the training is one step in ensuring that what the manager did doesn't happen again.

"What Starbucks is doing shows an understanding that to dismiss one employee as a crazy racist is to ignore the context in which that individual learns beliefs, pushes them on others, and abuses power. Using this as a teachable moment company-wide also sets an example," author Sara Benincasa wrote in a tweet.  

Nelson and Robinson's hope? That something positive comes from such a terrible incident.

"We thought long and hard about it, and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see," Robinson, said of the settlement. "It's not a right-now thing that's good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time."

More
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

For most of us, the hypothetical question of whether we would stick with a boyfriend or girlfriend through the trials of cancer and the treatments is just that – a hypothetical question. We would like to think we would do the right thing, but when Max Allegretti got the chance to put his money where mouth is, he didn't hesitate for a second.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular