Viral Video of Starbucks Arrest Sparks Conversations About Black Anxiety

On Thursday, April 12th author Melissa DePino shared a video of two African-American men being arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks.

According to DePino, the police were called because the men, who’ve been identified as commercial real estate professionals, hadn’t order anything. They were waiting on a friend, identified as Alan Yaffe, who showed up after authorities had arrived.

In the video posted by DePino, you can see Yaffe, a real estate developer, questioning the authorities’ decision to arrest the two men.

Additional footage released depicts the minutes leading up to their arrest and Yaffe’s initial encounter with authorities who claimed the men were trespassing and had previously been asked to leave.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Yaffe called attorney Lauren Wimmer about the incident.

“He was meeting with the two gentlemen at the Starbucks to discuss business,” Wimmer said Saturday.

Wimmer, representing both men pro bono, said authorities were considering a charge of “defiant trespass,” but that both men were let go at 12:30am on Friday.

A spokesman for District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office said they were released “because of lack of evidence” that a crime had been committed.

The viral incident has garnered national attention and shined another light on Philly’s law enforcement and judicial system.

The incident has also sparked yet another conversation on racial injustice in America, and more specifically, how it impacts Black mental health.

Award winning media creator Elon James White penned a thread on Black anxiety.

White’s depiction of anxiety line up with the realities of racial trauma.

In a 2016 article by Erlanger A. Turner, PhD and Jasmine Richardson titled Racial Trauma is Real: The Impact of Police Shootings on African Americansthe scholars explore the impact of the racial climate on Black mental health.

According to their work, repeated exposure to racism and discrimination are capable of leading to increase vigilance and suspicion, increased sensitivity to threat, increased psychological and physiological symptoms, such as anxiety and more.

Fortunately their article lists ways to cope with racial trauma, but it doesn’t stop the drastic amount of consumable discrimination in person and in media. And it doesn’t begin to tackle the trauma in Black DNA left by slavery.

Mental health in the Black community is an important topic, but Black mental stability in a racist society is a subsection of equal importance.

It’s imperative to keep having conversations concerning the trauma left from consuming mass amounts of discriminatory media. It’s vital for the Black psyche.

Thankfully, this situation didn’t play it out how it’s played out countless times before. It’s sad to rejoice that these young men didn’t become another hashtag.

*Starbucks’ CEO released a statement. It can be read here.


Share Your Thoughts

Bryant Lydell

Bryant Lydell is creative, personable and quick-witted Howard and USC alum. He's the founder of The Top Tea, a songwriter, screenwriter and member of the casting team for Netflix's NAACP Image Award-winning hip-hop competition series Rhythm + Flow.

InstagramInstagram did not return a 200.