#BackChannel: Starbucks And Implicit Bias, The Reign of Kendrick And Beyoncé, Tracy Morgan’s Return

Apr 25, 2018

The arrest of two 23-year-old black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks earlier this month has sparked a national conversation about implicit bias. Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were waiting for a business meeting when the employees asked them to leave. Soon after, police entered the store, handcuffed them and took them to jail.

The company’s CEO has since apologized and announced all U.S. Starbucks stores will close for one day in May to train employees on unconscious bias. Protesters and activists question whether this response is enough. Popular culture experts Natalie Bullock Brown and Mark Anthony Neal talk about the incident with host Frank Stasio in this episode of #BackChannel, The State of Things’ recurring series connecting culture and context.

It's blackness without context. There are many folks in that audience, given what Coachella is, that have no idea about HBCU culture. The question for me is whether or not this is work that is sustainable.- Mark Anthony Neal on Beychella

They will also discuss Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize and Beyoncé’s marathon Coachella performance. Plus, the new HBO documentary “King in the Wilderness” traces the last three years of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life through news accounts and firsthand interviews. It provides insight into a period in which King struggled to maintain his confidence as a leader. They also review the new TBS comedy “The Last O.G.” starring Tracy Morgan; “Rapture,” a new Netflix docuseries about eight hip-hop artists, including North Carolina’s Rapsody.

Natalie Bullock Brown is a professor of film and broadcast media at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, and Mark Anthony Neal is the chair of the department of African and African American studies at Duke University in Durham.

I find myself often trying to grab something from King, from Malcom X, from the Black Panther Party. Something that can help us to address these issues today. Part of what "King in the Wilderness" teaches us is that it is much more complicated than it appears.- Natalie Bullock Brown

Watch a trailer for "King in the Wilderness": 

Watch a trailer for Rapsody's episode of "Rapture":