2002-09-20 - 5:51 p.m.

When I hear someone emit some racial comment, such as, “Black people don’t tip, “ I immediately surge with adrenaline and go for their jugular. Over the years I have learned that my anger does nothing to help the situation, all it does is scare people so they don’t emit racial slurs while I am within earshot. That was never my intention, all I wanted to do was make people understand that saying something like that makes no more sense than saying, “Gray dogs that bark all night are frustrating.” It isn’t the color of the dog that makes it frustrating when they bark all night, it is a barking dog. It is cheap, asshole people that don’t tip, not black people as a whole. But strangely, the only time I hear someone complain about not being tipped is when it was a table of black people that failed to leave a tip. No one says anything when, daily, Charlie doesn’t leave a tip after sitting for two hours with a pot of coffee. No, when it comes to WHITE people that don’t tip people tend to joke about it, they’ll say, “Whoa....Lois left me THIRTY FIVE CENTS TODAY! I must have been REAL good! chuckle chuckle.” But if a table of black people leave a thirty five cent tip I can guarantee there will be a lot more said about it and there will be no chuckling afterwards, it won’t be a joke, it will be white against black.

I am writing this because today when I walked into work my boss started in with his report from the previous afternoon. I will often walk in to work and ask, “How did yesterday afternoon go?” Because I care, I want to know which new server did a good job and which one didn’t after I leave for the day. Today his reply was, “Well, it was okay, except that 75% of our clientele after you left was black.”

WHAT?” I snapped.

"I tried to spread them out between the sections but there were too many,” he said casually before the realization of who he was talking to started to sink in. Once he remembered that I have, in the past, gone on lengthy, angry tangents about racism, he tried to cover his obvious blunder with, “Well, I just wanted to make sure the girls made money, you know, “they” don’t tip.”

This is when I told him he better step away.

A little later, after he cowered away, I realized that I had done nothing to help him realize that his racist statements made no sense. All I had done was essentially say...okay, so that’s what you think, I don’t agree and I don’t want to hear about it. So I marched up front and asked, “What percentage of old people do we have in here right now?”

“Oh, I don’t know, Seventy?”

“Did you try to spread them out between sections?”


“Well, why not? Old people are consistently the worst tippers, my section is full of ‘em, I won’t make as much money as the other girls, you should really spread out the old people.”

My point was made. It isn’t BLACK people that don’t tip, yes, some people with black skin do not tip, but a lot of them do. Just like white people, just like old people, just like teenagers, just like Asians, just like Hispanics, just like Germans, Italians, Indians, mothers, fathers, cousins.....

It is horrible the way this discrimination is perpetuated. I see it in white people, I see it in black people. A co worker added a fifteen percent tip to a banquet a few weeks ago, as stated in the menu...”GROUPS OF SIX OR MORE WILL HAVE A FIFTEEN PERCENT GRATUITY ADDED TO THE BILL”. It just happened to be a banquet of all African Americans. The woman footing the bill walked up front with her three children in tow and said looking at them pointedly while making sure our boss and customers in the vicinity heard her say, “Our waitress added that tip because she just assumes us black folk don’t tip.” And then complained to my boss that her waitress had disrespected her in front of her children by adding that tip, that her waitress had made her children victims of racism. It was the woman that made it a racial issue, we add fifteen percent to any banquet. It was she that planted the discrimination bug in her children. They will grow up believing that any time they don’t get something they feel they should have that it is a racial issue.

I have no respect for people of any color that discriminate or perpetuate discrimination. In the past I have used anger as a way to try to deter people, or silence. But I am now finished with that tactic, from now on I will try my best to withhold my anger, at least make it less vehement, and I will speak what I feel, I will try to make people understand that it isn’t the color of skin that makes someone a jerk, it is the color of their soul.


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