Promises, Promises

There was a lot of anger when Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested for, apparently, being black in Starbucks. Some people have claimed that there were other grounds for the arrest but form what I’ve found, and I admit that I hasn’t spent much time digging deeply into this so I could be incorrect, the arrest was for being black in Starbucks. But the reason for the arrest is irrelevant. What matters is the public’s perception of the arrest. That perception has caused a not insignificant amount of heartache for both Starbucks and the City of Philadelphia, which employs the law enforcers who performed the arrest. The City of Philadelphia, not surprisingly, decided to settle the matter with a payoff. However, it got off cheap:

Two black men arrested for sitting at a Philadelphia Starbucks without ordering anything have settled with the city for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.

Emphasis mine.

Promises from politicians aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Nelson and Robinson would have been better off taking the $200,000 and setting up the program themselves because I guarantee that the city is going to sweep its promise under the rug as soon as the public forgets about the entire matter. If Nelson and Robinson somehow do manage the make the city go through with its promise, the officials tasked with doling out the money will certainly find a way to disqualify everybody who isn’t politically connected. That’s how government programs work.

Overall, this was good news for Philadelphia and bad news for black people who frequent Starbucks because now neither the city nor its law enforcers have any motivation not to arrest people for being black in Starbucks.