They’re believed to have been created by white supremacists

By Rebecca Firkser
Updated April 19, 2018
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Credit: photo by Zhang Peng via getty images

Less than a week after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks, a hateful prank referencing the incident is making its way around the internet. Apparently originating on the controversial website 4chan, a series of fake Starbucks coupons seemingly offering discounts to customers of “African-American heritage” have surfaced. The coupons have been revealed to be a hateful prank likely created by white supremacists. A Starbucks spokesperson told Business Insider that the racist coupons are “completely false and in no way associated with Starbucks.”

The coupons surfaced on social media this week as many have called for a Starbucks boycott. Although the company has been taking extreme steps to ensure nothing like last week’s arrests ever happen again (including mandatory racial-bias training for employees on the afternoon of May 29), a number of people have still sworn to protest the coffee chain. At first glance the coupons appear harmless, stating “Starbucks values all people of color and we are working on employee sensitivity training” and “The best dialogue starts over a cup of coffee and we'd like to buy you one.” The coupons quickly proved to be hateful and racist: Business Insider reports that coupons instructed baristas to use “a discount code 1488, the combination of two numbers that have become symbols of white supremacy.” Further, the QR code on the coupon links to a website page that says the N-word.

“They cannot be redeemed in our stores,” a Starbucks representative told USA Today in an email regarding the coupons.

Though the coupons officially have no affiliation with Starbucks, at least one man managed to get a free coffee from the attention the coupons garnered. Bryan Sharpe, who goes by Hotep Jesus on Twitter, posted a video of an exchange he had with a Starbucks barista.

In the video, Sharpe says to a barista he was there for “Starbucks reparations” in the form of a free coffee. The barista says she saw the coupons on Twitter, and asks Sharpe if it’s a “real thing,” and then says she’d give him a free coffee. The two have a pleasant exchange while the barista prepares the drink, they wish each other well, and Sharpe leaves with his coffee.