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Starbucks, USA TODAY team to tackle racial issues

Starbucks, in partnership with USA TODAY, is about to tackle the issue of race in America.

This week, baristas at 12,000 Starbucks locations nationally will try to spark customer conversation on the topic of race by writing two words on customer cups: Race Together. Also, a special "Race Together" newspaper supplement, co-authored by Starbucks and USA TODAY, will appear in USA TODAY print editions beginning Friday, March 20. It also will be distributed at Starbucks stores.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is on a mission to encourage Starbucks customers and employees to discuss race, under the firm belief that it's a critical first step toward confronting — and solving — racial issues as a nation. It is scheduled to be a key topic at the java giant's annual meeting on Wednesday.

"Racial diversity is the story of America, our triumphs as well as our faults," says the opening letter to the eight-page supplement and conversation guide, signed by Schultz and Larry Kramer, president and publisher of USA TODAY. "Yet racial inequality is not a topic we readily discuss. It's time to start."

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