Howard Schultz, asked about racial bias, says he doesn't 'see color'

Former Starbucks CEO and possible 2020 presidential candidate Howard Schultz on Tuesday says he doesn’t “see color,” in reference to race.

Schultz, who is mulling running for president as an independent, made the comment during a CNN town hall while answering a question on racial bias after two black men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia last year.

“As somebody who grew up in a very diverse background as a young boy in the projects, I didn’t see color as a young boy and I honestly don’t see color now,” Schultz said.

The former Starbucks CEO said that the company “learned a great deal” from the incident, which reignited a national conversation on racial bias.

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Two black men were handcuffed and removed from a Philadelphia Starbucks last year, where they were waiting to meet a friend but had not purchased anything. A store manager called the police on the men. 

“It was a terrible moment for the company, it’s not something that we’re going to forget and it’s something we learned a great deal from and we’re still learning about,” Schultz said Tuesday.

In response to the arrests, thousands of Starbucks stores nationwide closed for a day to hold a companywide anti-bias training session.

Starbucks also changed its companywide bathroom policy to allow anyone to use a Starbucks bathroom, not just paying customers.