Starbucks may like to think of itself as a progressive company—with its menu of health-care options for employees and recent pay hikes for store workers—but there’s one big problem: the white privilege in its pumpkin spice lattes.
In an actual peer-reviewed academic study titled “The Perilous Whiteness of Pumpkins,” a scholar at the University of British Columbia has analyzed the whiteness of pumpkins in modern culture and determined that they’re the ultimate expression of white privilege, sexism and racism.
The academic, Lisa Jordan Powell, raised the question of our times: “Why did PSLs [pumpkin spice lattes] become the symbol of basic white girlness? Why did they stick even more than UGGs, yoga pants, or scented candles?”
She arrived at a startling conclusion: “PSLs [pumpkin spice lattes] are one step further from actual pumpkins. Their fluffiness, lack of substance, and triviality, regardless of attempts to dismiss them as ‘basic,’ make them ultimate luxuries and hence markers of distinction and white privilege.”
But the article didn’t end merely with the accusation of white privilege. Powell also described pumpkin spice lattes as sexist and racist for historical reasons. “Starbucks PSLs are products of coffee shop culture, with its gendered and racial codes” because coffee shops used to be “deeply masculine spaces” for white men but “concurrent with women’s entrance were milky, sweet drinks,” she wrote.
While Powell’s study will no doubt become a roaring hit in social science departments, what about gingerbread coffee?