Tableside Racism: Waiters Admit Discriminating Against Black Patrons Because They Don’t Tip

April 24, 2012  |  

That bad service you received last time you dined out may not have been an optical illusion. A new survey of waiters in North Carolina revealed that nearly two-fifths of the respondents admitted to treating customers differently based on their race. About 53 percent of servers reported seeing other servers discriminate against African American customers by giving them poor service at least some of the time, and as much as 90 percent of the respondents also said they engaged in or overheard racially-charged conversations among co-workers.

A total of 200 servers at 18 full-service chain restaurants in the state were surveyed; 86 percent of the respondents were white. Among the 38.5 percent of servers who reported providing inferior service to African-American customers, many expressed views that African American customers are impolite and/or poor tippers, and suggested that black patrons, especially, are likely targets of servers’ self-professed discriminatory actions.

Sarah Rusche, a PhD candidate in sociology at NC State and co-author of a paper, says “tableside racism is yet another example in which African Americans are stereotyped and subsequently treated poorly in everyday situations.” I’ve been on both sides of the coin. Sometimes I’ve been out with people who didn’t see the responsibility to properly tip servers or who were very rude for no reason, but I’ve also been on the side of not receiving the service I deserve from the get-go and reflecting that in a server’s tip.

What do you think? Are black folks genuinely bad tippers or is this an unfair stereotype?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

More on Madame Noire!

Trending on MadameNoire

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN