• Starbucks publicly declared support for Black Lives Matter on social media
  • A memo to staff, however, prohibited the wearing of BLM-related gear in stores
  • Calls to boycott Starbucks trended on Twitter following the memo's release

After publicly declaring support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement on its Twitter account on June 1, Starbucks reportedly told its employees in an internal bulletin that they are not allowed to wear BLM-related clothes and accessories in its stores across the country.

The memo, obtained by BuzzFeed News and reported on Thursday (June 11), apparently stated that its employees must abide by the dress code policy that does not target a particular religion, politics, or personal belief.

Apparently, wearing Black Lives Matter shirts or pins could incite violence and be misunderstood by its customers. Zing Shaw, the company's VP of inclusion and diversity, also said in a video meant for employees that there may be "agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles" of BLM.

The company also said that some people might use the racism issue to "amplify divisiveness" when Starbucks is only aiming to have a "safe and welcoming" place for its customers and staff based on its "Third Place" policy of inclusivity.

Following the report, calls to boycott the coffee chain became a trending topic on Twitter.

Some employees also said that Starbucks’ management usually allows its staff to express support for political and personal issues like marriage equality or LGBTQ rights. In fact, Starbucks distributed rainbow pins and Gay Pride shirts to its employees for Pride Month this June.

"The statement prioritizes those who feel discomfort over Black lives," Calvin Bensen, an African American transgender who works as a Starbucks barista in Atlanta, Georgia, said. "My skin color incites violence at Starbucks. Should I not come to work?"

Starbucks supports the Black Lives Matter movement but won't allow its workers to wear BLM-related shirts or pins as it might incite violence. Cory Doctorow/Flickr

Bensen also said that there had been instances where staff members experienced harassment, transphobia, and homophobia for wearing Gay Pride gear, yet the company always stood behind them.

"There's something deeper here," another unnamed employee told BuzzFeed news. "[Starbucks CEO] Kevin Johnson talks a big talk on Twitter, but he's still the head of a multibillion-dollar company that has to keep up with its image. God forbid if employees tarnish that pristine global image."