University of Washington undergrad Matthew Incontinetti paid for his morning cup of Starbucks coffee with a $5 bill and walked away with $6.30 in change.
But getting back more than he paid wasn’t what surprised him.
“Look, I’m an honest guy,” Incontinetti said, “so I went back to the cashier and tried to get the correct change. That’s when I found out about the new Starbucks policy.”
What Incontinetti had discovered is that coffee giant Starbucks has put an end to correct change altogether, and other industries including the stock market could soon follow suit.
“On many levels, correct change operates as Whiteness,” says the new policy rolled out to high-income zip codes on the West Coast. “The job of retail cashier places a premium on math skills, and employers often reward employees who can give correct change and balance the till.”
The reward of higher pay and promotions unfairly falls to employees who did well in math at school, and high school mathematics is racist.
“If one is viewed as being able to add and subtract accurately, there will always be an inherent, incorrect, sense of superiority,” says the policy. “At Starbucks, we are officially eliminating the microaggressions that infect our workplace through employees who are good at math.”
The policy has its roots in the discovery that the “Western” mathematics of the free market system is viewed as the only legitimate expression of mathematical identity and intelligence.
Starbucks aims to erase this grievous cultural error in the same way White math erased the historical contributions of people and communities of color.
For customers like the white Incontinetti, who routinely pay with cash, this presents an opportunity to eliminate racism in their own lives one transaction at a time.
“It felt pretty good to walk away with free coffee and an extra $1.30 this time,” he said. “What I’ve learned is that correct change cannot be known objectively. It can only be known subjectively. So the next time I buy a $3 coffee with a $20 bill and only get $1 back, I’ll be eliminating a little bit of racism from the world.”