The divisiveness of unity

The new design on the Starbucks cups are drawing criticism from many online. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

With the upcoming election, there are many issues that have been thrust to the forefront of national conversation. Immigration, abortion, refugees and the economy are all valid issues that have contributed to the growing divide between citizens.  

But now, it seems a new topic has been shoved back into the tension: the design on a disposable coffee cup.

Of course, Starbucks is not a stranger to outlandish criticism after the country nearly had a coronary last year when the company chose a simplistic design to celebrate the holiday season, rather than plastering “Merry Christmas” on the drinking vessels. 

The coffee chain released a new, limited-edition cup this week covered with a drawing by artist Shogo Ota. The design uses a single line to create 132 faces, showing that regardless of appearance or age, we are all connected. 

How scandalous.

Almost immediately after the cups appeared in stores nationwide, the company was engulfed in an overflow of online criticism. Apparently, a design symbolizing unity is a form of liberal “brainwashing” intended to sway voters and push an agenda. 

A plethora of this sound reasoning was showcased by the intellectually superior on Facebook and Twitter. A tweet by @RadioAnna stated, “@Starbucks screw you. My coffee should NOT (and does Not) come with political brainwashing. I dropped @Starbucks like a hot rock.”

The amount of hate pouring out of people across the country underlines the toxic environment shrouding our society.

“During a divisive time in our country, Starbucks wanted to create a symbol of unity as a reminder of our shared values, and the need to be good to each other,” said Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz.

Unfortunately, it appears that in the U.S., even the concept of unity is divisive. 

Granted, many of those vowing to boycott the franchise did so falsely believing the green cups are this year’s holiday design. The actual holiday cups, however, are set to debut next Wednesday. 

Whether or not the current cups were meant to deck the halls or address the fact that the U.S. is diverse and we are all united in our dependency on bitter, caffeine-fuelled pick-me-ups, the fact remains that it’s a mold of paper fiber, the sole purpose of which is to transport a beverage. 

The company is not disparaging a people group or slapping a “Vote for Gary Johnson” sticker on the cup. There aren’t any offensive images or controversial figures being showcased. 

The outrage over Starbucks waging a “war on Christmas” last year made it seem as if large portions of the country would be refusing to give the coffee giant their business.

However, the company reported they had a record income, with total net revenue reaching $5.37 billion, according to an announcement by Starbucks on Jan. 21.

For all of the apparent fuss, it seems that consumers were all talk.

In a few weeks, this will blow over as people realize their craving for a caramel macchiato outweighs their desire for attention with their pointless boycott. And Starbucks will happily accept them — and their $5 — as it continues to make a fortune despite the latest controversy.


Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.