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Starbucks reverses policy, allowing employees to wear Black Lives Matter attire

Black Lives Matter protests in U.S. suburbs and towns
Black Lives Matter protests extend into America's suburbs and towns 09:41

Starbucks is now allowing employees to wear Black Lives Matter attire after an earlier memo said it would violate the dress code policy. In letter to employees Friday, the coffee giant encouraged workers to feel free to "wear your BLM pin or t-shirt." 

In a post entitled "Standing together against racial injustice," the company wrote, "we've heard you want to show your support, so just be you. Wear your BLM pin or t-shirt. We are so proud of your passionate support of our common humanity. We trust you to do what's right while never forgetting Starbucks is a welcoming third place where all are treated with dignity and respect."

That appears to be a turnaround from last week, when store managers contacted leadership for guidance about wearing clothing supporting Black Lives Matter, BuzzFeed reported Wednesday. In a memo obtained by the news outlet, Starbucks leadership said clothing and accessories bearing the slogan "do not currently adhere to policy."

That memo went on to explain "there are agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles of the Black Lives Matter Movement — and in certain circumstances, intentionally repurpose them to amplify divisiveness."

At the same time, Starbucks tweeted out statements in support of the movement with messages such as, "Black lives matter. We are committed to being a part of change."

Many on social media were angered by the report about Starbucks' dress code, prompting some Twitter users to suggest a boycott of the company.

Amid the backlash, Starbucks issued its new statement Friday making clear that Black Lives Matter attire is allowed. In addition, the company said it's designed a new t-shirt showing support for the movement, to "demonstrate our allyship" and "recognize the historic significance of this time." It said the shirts will soon be distributed to more than 250,000 employees. 

The Starbucks Foundation is also committing to $1 million in neighborhood grants to promote racial equity and create more inclusive and just communities, according to a company tweet.

The announcement comes as the company plans to close up to 400 stores in North America over the next 18 months and expand pick-up options in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

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