Starbucks is hoping to lead a national conversation about race. According to a video released by founder Howard Schultz, Starbucks baristas are encouraged to scrawl “race together” on coffee cups before placing them in the hands of customers.

This hollow bit of moral exhibitionism is supposed to encourage “compassion,” “honesty,” “empathy” and “love.” Does Starbucks sell caffeine-free compassion?

If a black person makes a joke, I laugh harder than I would for a white person’s joke. I hold open doors a fraction longer for blacks than whites. I’m more likely to use the honorific “sir” with a black store clerk than with a white.

I know a woman who adopted two children, one black and one white. Guess what? White strangers fuss and coo over the black child noticeably more than over the white one.

The same impulse that caused me to spend decades being particularly solicitous toward black people (and I very much doubt I’m the only one) has caused this country to move heaven and earth to try to repair the damage done by slavery, Jim Crow and racism.

Our entire system of quotas and set-asides, our trillions of dollars in social programs, our “diversity” industry, our carefully designed entertainment and, yes, the election of President Barack Hussein Obama all testify to how badly America yearns to prove its racial bona fides.

But for the race racketeers, the enormous racial recompense machine that is American life is as nothing. When an old-fashioned racist is discovered (of course they still exist), the media gaggle shouts choruses of “I told you so’s.” The exceptions are seized upon as the thinly veiled norm.

They ache to believe that black problems, like higher rates of crime, poverty and joblessness, can be laid entirely at white people’s feet. If coffee buyers can only transcend their unloving thoughts, the poor will thrive and peace will descend.

If Schultz truly wanted to alleviate the problems of black Americans — and everyone else, as well — he would do better to highlight the key role played by family structure. Only 2 percent of black children raised by their married parents are poor.

Most young men who commit crimes are from fatherless homes. In fact, family structure is a far better predictor of poverty, criminality and a host of other troubles than race. More than 70 percent of black children are from single-parent homes.

Fifty years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan tried to have an honest conversation about the black family. He was shouted down.

We haven’t had an honest conversation about race since.

Mona Charen is a columnist with National Review magazine. Click here to contact her, follow her on Twitter: @mcharen, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.