Starbucks will be closing all of its company-owned restaurants in the U.S. during the afternoon of May 29 to conduct a racial-bias education program. That's gonna mean a lot of New Jerseyans will be getting their coffee elsewhere on that day. Hope that makes you feel better!

I don’t consider myself a racist, but I also don’t teach my children that every single person in the world is the same and that you have to love everyone. Because that is not human nature and that is a lie. I teach my kids that you respect everyone, be nice to everyone, and try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. But the reality is, there are people that we are going to feel more connected to than other people. And sometimes that is because they have more similarities to us. That again, is nature.

Prejudice, bigotry, racism, and hate; these are not things that developed in an evil, modern society. These are things that are ingrained in the human psyche. And they can manifest in rude and disturbing behaviors. Nevertheless, they are natural emotions. The way to teach children to become morally upright members of society is to teach them that it’s ok to have feelings but it’s not always ok to express those feelings.

I had a kid or two who took one look at a teacher the first day of school and didn’t like her (Neither did I!). That’s a prejudice based on past experience, someone’s look or “vibe”. Are my kids bigots? Or did they just feel a certain way that they couldn’t control? I taught my kids that it’s ok to feel that way, but you have to act nice and be respectful and try to see the good in that person if you can. I never said it was wrong to be scared or to get a bad vibe or to dislike the teacher!

That’s why no matter how hard Howard Schultz tries to wring the bigotry out of his Starbucks employees, he will not be able to do it. He can get them to act a certain way, but he cannot get them to feel a certain way. Legislating feelings is impossible, yet the country is trying its darndest to do just that. Here in New Jersey, we feel it all the time with anti-hate-crime laws and the like. Closing all of the Starbucks stores is going to make a lot of people feel really good but it is not going to change the way people see other people. It can make them hide their feelings but it will not eradicate prejudice.

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