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Okay Starbucks, let's have 'the talk'

Starbucks' baristas across the country have begun writing "Race Together" on coffee cups as part of a wider company effort to raise awareness on race relations.
Source: Starbucks
Starbucks' baristas across the country have begun writing "Race Together" on coffee cups as part of a wider company effort to raise awareness on race relations.

Okay Starbucks, I'm ready to have "the talk." You know, the initiative your CEO Howard Schultz is promoting to encourage baristas to write "Race Together" on coffee cups and engage willing customers in discussion about America's racial divide? Yeah, that one.

So let's talk. I'll start by asking some questions: How come there's no Starbucks in Ferguson, Missouri? How come there's no Starbucks in Selma, Alabama? How come Starbucks completely pulled out of Israel in 2003?

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Now relax, those are all really rhetorical questions. I don't for a minute think Starbucks doesn't have stores in those areas because of racism or anti-Semitism. I know the reason is another "ism" called capitalism. And that's as it should be.

The bottom line is the reason we Americans and American companies do or don't do things is pure financial self-interest. That doesn't mean we don't make mistakes based on faulty readings of capitalist opportunities, but that's the motivation just the same. It also doesn't mean that people in purportedly under-served neighborhoods can't prove to Corporate America that it's making an economic mistake by not serving them. And lastly, it also doesn't mean that political opportunists and media scoundrels aren't using the racial economic divide as an excuse to shake down big business.

So you see Starbucks, I'm not shy or afraid of this topic. In fact, let me just say it clearly: Americans aren't racists, we're capitalists... just like you, Starbucks.

Good talk.

Commentary by Jake Novak, supervising producer of "Power Lunch." Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.