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Starbucks decided to stop their baristas writing “Race together” on customers’ cups in response to raging public criticism.

Totally apart from political, social, or racial dispute involved in this issue, I as a non-native English speaker, am not clear with the meaning of “#Race together” slogan, which should be obvious to most of all Anglo-Americans.

To me it looks like simply saying “Let’s join the race together.” What does it exactly mean? Does it mean "let’s join the race together" or "let's talk about race"? Why # is necessary before “Race together”? Is this line grammatically right? Is “Race together” a common English expression?

I'm asking this question purely from language point of view.

  • They would be better focused on producing a drinkable cup of coffee than writing things on cups, wouldn't you agree? – WS2 Mar 25 '15 at 8:20
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    The hash (#) is not part of the phrase. It refers to modern social media - namely Twitter and Instagram - using "hashtags" to group posts of a similar nature. – Dog Lover Mar 25 '15 at 8:25
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    I'd say it's intentionally ambiguous: the double meaning of race is the whole point of the gimmick. Not silencing race issues under the carpet is in some way seen as the goal of a kind of ‘race’ that we should all be joining together, in unity. It's not really obvious as such to native speakers, either, and it's not meant to be: you're supposed to have to think about it for a bit before you really get what it's about. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 25 '15 at 10:10
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    @JanusBahsJacquet sounds like an answer, especially if you make it sound fancier by using double entendre. – bib Mar 25 '15 at 11:52
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#RaceTogether was proposed by the CEO of Starbucks. He said that, in light of the racial issues affecting the United States, Starbucks baristas who normally write customers' names on cups could instead use the hashtag to make for healthy, thought-provoking dialogue on racism.

In terms of the phrasing of "Race Together", it appears that this is a thought to challenge the trends of #blacklivesmatter, #muslimlivesmatter, etc. Rather than address race bit-by-bit, it appears that this would make it an "everyone issue." Instead of race being a minority topic, it's an all-people topic. It also sort of plays on the idea of one race: the human race.

For the specific phrasing, it appears to be one coined by Starbucks Marketing/Communications teams to have a branded voice in these trending topics.

Here is a recent article on the topic.

Here is the original video.

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