I Prefer My Racism Straight Up, Thank You

Damon Young would prefer not to lose sleep over what racists say about him.

This post first appeared on Damon Young’s blog Very Smart Brothers, where it prompted 593 comments, one of which became the title of this post. Here is Damon’s article:

If you happened to eavesdrop on a random group of black people having a free-flowing conversation — and this conversation could take place anywhere; a family reunion, a happy hour, a game night, a cafeteria table, wherever — there’s a good chance that the discussion will eventually shift to our feelings about black people doing dumb shit in public.

The topic might be something someone saw on the evening news. If at a restaurant, it might revolve around a woman near the entrance who’s dressed and acting a “hot ass mess.” It might just be our hilarious thoughts about the latest episode of Basketball Wives.

While these discussions might seem innocuous and unnecessary, the need to frequently engage in conversations about cringe-worthy shit committed by people of color comes from a latent feeling that’s never actually spoken aloud but understood by each.

We’d rather not air our “dirty laundry” around white people, and we’re slightly amazed, shocked, and embarrassed by those who do.

This feeling, passed down to us by our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, has wide-reaching effects, as it influences the way we act, causes many of us to “code switch,” and creates a certain level of collective racial hyper self-consciousness that (I’m assuming) white people never have to adopt.

I realize that many of them (white people) don’t really “get” this way of thinking, not understanding why we’d be so reluctant to be candid and let our hair down around them. I mean, I’m pretty sure “White America” doesn’t shake its collective head in disappointment and shame whenever Lindsey Lohan feels the need to show a homeless man her vagina (again). But, a recent experience I’ve had should help them understand why many of us feel the way we

A couple weeks ago, Lisa Hickey — publisher and CEO of Good Men Media — asked if I’d be interested writing something for an upcoming discussion of race at The Good Men Project. Now, this wasn’t an out of the blue request. I’ve written for The Good Men Project before, and Lisa and I exchange emails regularly and have a pretty good working relationship.

But while I was definitely interested in contributing, I had a major mental reservation: I’d never written about race for a (predominately) white audience before.


Yes, I’m aware that VSB (VerySmartBrothas.com) has a large and multi-racial readership base. But, the majority of the people who frequent here belong to the same demographic (21 to 35 year old African-American), and that knowledge does influence word choice and tone. I might be a bit more conscious of some of the things I so freely discuss here if I knew I was speaking to a different audience.

Anyway, I got past the reservation and ended up writing a 1000 word piece about a “racial neurosis” that many of us carry, and how it affects the way we react to things.

“The overt and soul-crippling racism that plagued our parents and grandparents isn’t nearly as prominent today. Anyone who’d argue otherwise is a fool. But, this history has resulted in a collective neurosis whose symptoms are similar to how dealing with a crazy girlfriend or boyfriend for too long starts to make you crazy as well. You start hacking into their email account just to make sure they haven’t hacked into yours again. They accuse you of lying so much that you start to wonder “Wait, am I sure that happened? Did I really go to work today, or did I spend the entire day with my mistress?”

From a race perspective, a manifestation of this mindset is you wondering if all things that happen to you are somehow related to you being black; a too heightened racial awareness that makes it increasingly difficult to discern between legitimate racism and race-based discrimination — both of which definitely still exist — and mere happenstance.”

I ended this essay with a paragraph or two about what often happens when we eat at restaurants. As many of you know, we have a stereotype of being bad tippers. This reputation may or may not be deserved, but I theorized that we might be bad tippers because we have a history of getting bad service, so we anticipate it now. I called this phenomenon “Eating While Black,” and Lisa liked that term so much that she thought I should just make it the title of the article. I agreed.

“Eating While Black” was eventually published last Monday, and it was pretty well-received; ending the week as the 3rd most popular article at The Good Men Project that week. The comments it generated didn’t really touch on the racial neurosis aspect, though, as most were focused on why Eating While Black occurs.

One commentator in particular — a guy who went by G.L. Piggy — shared a few of his thoughts as a white waiter who’s had many experiences with black customers.

“I’ve been a waiter for 7 years at a second-tier Italian restaurant. In my experience, black do tip worse. Yes, white servers cringe when they see black people being seated at their tables. But the same is true of black servers as well. This has much less to do with the amount of the tip one is expected to receive though.

These are all generalities – not all black people are like this. But racial differences in restaurant behavior are noticable. Black people tend to be more needy, pickier, and quick to anger. They take much longer to order their food. We call it “being ran”. Many servers get the feeling that black patrons are asking for extra things – napkins, ranch dressing, extra sauce – just to put us to work. They seem much less understanding about your time constraints and your need to take care of your other patrons. There seems to be, among blacks more than other races, a mentality of “I want it now”. And while the “get shit for free” mentality transcends race, blacks tend to hold it more than other races of people”

Although I found the statement about black people and “getting shit for free” a little troubling, I appreciated his candor and willingness to share his opinions. We went back and forth a few times after that, cordially debating the root causes of Eating While Black, and the discussion eventually died down towards the end of the week.

This Monday, however, I received an email notification that “Eating While Black” had received another trackback. I clicked on it, and it took me to “Not Tipping While Black” —  a 600 word long response G.L. Piggy’s had just posted on his blog.

I read it, expecting to see a continuation of the discussion we had the week before. Instead, I noticed a shift in tone and direction, as it subtly started to become a critique of “black culture” in general.

“But it is ridiculous to grant poor tippers some sort of deep philosophical justification for their cheapness and/or hostility towards (white) social norms of any sort. The fact is that tipping is an American norm which means that black patrons who willingly flout it are free-riding on the rest of society.”

Curious where this discussion was headed, I decided to stick around and read the comments.


From G.L. Piggy:

“But whenever they find hairs or plastic (at an amazingly high rate) or if their food isn’t prepared to their liking, you pretty much have to drop everything to cater to them. It’s really like waiting on infants”

From “a.nonny.mous”

“…black patrons of restaurants aren’t oriented to the bill for their food, literally because their minds have trouble conceiving it. So they get it and are astounded because they never thought “how will this steak and wine affect my future bank account” in a way a non-black would.”

From “EzE”

“Really, is it necessary to plumb the depths of evolutionary psychology to figure out why blacks are lousy tippers, rude customers? Do you really think that some alleged inability to consider future consequences comes into play?

Blacks are jerks, that’s all. There’s no need to science it all up. Also the infantile mind theory is no good, they’re not infants, they are of below average intelligence often but above retardation. No, there’s no big mystery here, they’re just jerks is all.”

The reluctance to freely share, to have open and honest discussions about anything race-related, is basically just us not wanting to provide any opportunity for “White America” to gather more evidence to support their latent belief that we’re just not supposed to be here.

These are just a few of the 350 or so comments this topic generated, but they provide a good snapshot of the tone of the entire discussion there. What’s jarring is the fact that these don’t seem to be unintelligent people. Many of the people who frequent that site have well thought out and “researched” theories about why blacks are intellectually inferior, and they seem to be mentally, intellectually, and emotionally invested in proving this to be true.


Ironically, the comments in “Not Tipping While Black” actually prove why Eating While Black even exists. While they’re interpreting our “pickiness” and occasional animosity towards (white) servers as entitlement and us trying to “get over on the man,” it’s really just distrust — distrust of white establishments, distrust of white people’s ultimate intentions, etc — and statements like this “…black patrons of restaurants aren’t oriented to the bill for their food, literally because their minds have trouble conceiving it.” do nothing but fan that flame.

Anyway, I’m pointing this out because it’s the exact reason why I — and many other black people— have serious reservations about being candid around most whites. Yes, I realize that not all white people share these views. In fact, I’m optimistic that the vast majority of them don’t. But, more than enough of us share the belief that deep down, many of them do.

And, the reluctance to freely share, to have open and honest discussions about anything race-related, to “air our dirty laundry in public” is basically just us not wanting to provide any opportunity for “White America” to gather more evidence to support their latent belief that we’re just not supposed to be here.

Strangely enough, this experience didn’t depress or dishearten me in the least. Maybe I just anticipated it and braced myself for it. And, maybe the “losing sleep over what racists think about me” part of my brain is underdeveloped too.

About Damon Young

Pittsburgh native Damon Young (aka “The Champ”) is the co-founder of VerySmartBrothas.com. Their first book Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide To Dating, Mating and Fighting Crime is available at Amazon.com


  1. All I am going to say is this: I was never a racist until I became a server working in a restaurant. I went to school where the demographic was roughly 30% black and 70% white and never had a problem. I worked at other places never had a problem. Serving though, opened my eyes! Here I was being discriminated against! Which means why should I care about black people now? Why should I think of them as equal if all they are going to do is “assume I am 5 percent racist.”? Black people, you got your wish. I am now 5 percent racist and thank you for making me that way. I treat everyone the same and I want to do a good job at my job because that reflects back on me. Invariably, I can not only predict what is going to be ordered (food with every substituion and modification known to man, you know, just to make it difficult) but also the fact that they are going to order the most expensive item on the menu only to send it back because they wanted it “well done, but rare.” They also order the most expensive drinks and then complain about those to get it for free as well. NOT ALL OF THEM, but about 8.5 out of 10. If stereotypes are not true, then why do I call it everytime? Why is the pattern so blatant? Why can I see right through black customers and know who is going to give me grief and who is not. One more thing: It’s the younger ones, not the older ones. The stuff their ancestors fought for, is the stuff the younger generation is destroying. The excuse of “I can’t be nice to white people because they are going to take from me blah blah blah.” is getting old. You have every opportunity your ancestors didn’t and I personally think they would kick the hypocritical racist and hateful current generation of black people in the pants.We have a choice, we can make progress and put aside the hate. I am more than willing to do that. However, if we are only going to continue the very thing you fought against, (and be hypocrites) then I am more than ready to do that as well. I was never a slave owner, I was raised that black people are people, but believe me the hostility I encounter just for being white is wearing me down to the point where I am wondering if segregation and Jim Crow would just make us all happy again.

  2. I’m a Black woman who eats out at least once every day and I’m a great tipper. If my food or service or bad I let the manager know face to face rather than punishing the waiter with a lousy tip. With that being said, I have been ignored and treated rudely by restaurant servers because of racism and stereotypes attached to Black people. I’ve even seen initially nasty servers visibly change their attitude toward me when I didn’t live up to their poor expectations. I’ll also add that I only eat at restaurants that have open kitchens so that I can see who is preparing my food and be sure that no foreign or inedible objects are being added. Hatred and anger make people do ugly things.

    • It’s not racism to allocate your time efficiently in a busy restaurant when doing so has a significant impact on your earnings. You’re asking servers (black and white) to subsidize the lack of tipping by black people who choose not to behave according to existing social norms when it comes to eating out in restaurants (i.e., tipping your waiter an appropriate amount). The fact that blacks don’t tip well causes fellow blacks to behave the same way as whites in this regard because the incentive transcends color.

      Question: Was it racism for blacks to vote for Obama because he was black? In this case, many (if not most) blacks voted for Obama primarily because he was black. Meaning: they voted against McCain because of the color of his skin. If that is not racism, how can you accuse waiters of racism for treating someone differently b/c of the color of their skin when many blacks did the same in the last election.

      Another question: How is it racism if both black and white servers behave the same in regards to service for blacks in restaurants? Are the blacks then black racists?

      Racism is believing that another race is inferior and treating the other race inappropriately. A white server giving less attention to blacks in a restaurant could care less about the race, he or she just cares about the tip and earning money. Same as the black server who behaves the same. The white may have black friends, date blacks, and choose to spend his free time playing sports with blacks and listening to black music and hanging out with blacks, and treat blacks equally or better in every other respect of his personal life. That is not a racist. How is that person a racist?

      I suspect blacks like yourself have no clue what actual racism is . . . perhaps that’s why race hustlers like Sharpton and Jess Jackson and H.L. Gates and the Afro-Amer studies set make such noise . . . because they can manipulate other blacks for their own economic interest and quest for power, though it handicaps blacks by making them feel they are perpetual victims.

      It seems obvious to me most blacks don’t know what racism is because they claim it so much. The ease with which you and other blacks cry racism in restaurants (when it may just be a lack of training or poor service or a busy night or the economic imperative) suggest to me blacks today are looking for reasons to cry racism that the word no longer has meaning. That’s why the line “ooh that’s racist” developed and has become a common joke when someone make any comment that is neutral or less than flattering about a black or something commonly associated with blacks.

      • @Dude,
        I amn’t sure whom you’re addressing. I also amn’t sure what planet you’re from, but by feck, it ain’t this one. “… most blacks don’t know what racism is..”!? Is that supposed to be funny, or something!? Once again (says I, grinding my teeth, and speaking slowly and distinctly), you’re not the one who’s going to be lifted for D.W.B. (driving while black), or end up dead in a police cell because of it. And that’s just for starters. I suspect you need to put on more tin foil. Some of their messages are getting through.

  3. @dj and Damon,
    Actually, I didn’t realise for years that I was supposed to tip the barber ( one doesn’t tip bar staff in the U.K.). I kept wondering why they kept glaring at me when I left. From over here, this whole conversation sounds a bit surreal. I used to work as a chef, so I hadn’t much dealing with punters, but as far as I could see, most people tipped according to their mood, personality, and commensurate with their national customs. Our absolute worst customer was Slabbert the ( white) South African. He was the nastiest, rudest, and most arrogant wanker you could imagine. He actually used to snap his figers at the waiting staff. Thank goodness I’m out of catering now!

  4. @Dude,
    Oh, for Christ’s sake, leave it out, mate. You know perfectly well that your not the one who is always going to stopped for driving a nice car, and then run the risk of being arrested (often for damaging a police truncheon with your head), and then yous massively less likely to accidently die in police custody. That’s the bleeding difference, and I’m sure you know that perfectly well. You remind me of some of my eejit, heterosexual, male friends who are always saying to my female friends regarding sexual harrassment, “Well, I wouldn’t mind if a pretty girl grabbed my ass or propositioned me in the street! I don’t see what you lot are complaining about.” I’ll tell you what they’re complaining about-they have to put up with that crap all the time, and always have to worry whether said groper or propositioner is going to escalate to further violence, and men don’t. And they can’t go to the police because they don’t take violence against females seriously.

  5. I have only recently started truly educating myself on my own racism and I can tell how recent that is for me by my reaction to your piece here – I found the racism you discuss in this article absolutely effing exasperating (it made my blood boil, frankly), while you, on the other hand are discussing it in this incredibly calm and insightful way. Obviously this is because you’ve been dealing with offensive crap like this forever and ever and I’m only recently engaging with the topic because being white I got the choice on that. But anyway, kudos to you for sticking it out and writing about this so readers like me can get a clue.


  7. Moss Bliss says:

    I fully understand that many of my automatic reactions in public were based on an in-trained racism which embarasses me every time it comes out. I do not have a racist bone in my body, but the culture I grew up in put it in the programming. I think the best white person in America is still 5% racist– the lower that percentage, the more we seem to be aware of it. Which is why the redneck trucker who just used the “N” word, when challenged, comes right back with, “I’m not a racist!” and goes through a justification of his statement, where others of us (like me) go, “Oh my God, did I say that! I’m so sorry!”

    • what % of the best black people are racist?

      also, the “N” word just slips out of your mouth? even I’m not that racist. i’ve only ever used the word with irony or quotation.

    • wellokaythen says:

      It’s a mark of how far American society has come that the word “racist” is now a horrible insult, that no one wants to be labeled that way. It’s also a reminder of how far we need to go that even heads of the KKK and Aryan Nations don’t like to be called racist. Even people who are clearly racist don’t like the word. Progress. Of a sort. I guess.

    • Saying “redneck trucker” is racist.

  8. And as promised, here is “part two” of my series addressing the issues Champ and Chuck have raised:

    The Problem With Chuck Ross Isn’t That He’s A “Racist”; The Problem Is That He’s An Intellectual Coward


  9. Well, since I see this discussion is still quite white-hot, pardon the pun, I thought to offer the following:

    An Open Letter To Champ & Chuck (Or, Putting The “Eating While Black” Debate Into Proper Perspective & Context)

    Part Two, the followup, drops today; wait for it…


  10. G.L. Piggy is a moronic waiter. Not a biologist. Not a sociologist. Not a psychologist. No kind of scholar at all. And nothing to lend ANY credence to what he says.

    Let him be hateful. I wish upon him many lousy tips because he deserves every one of them for most likely terrible service.

    • If you say so.

      Have you ever waited tables? Has Damon ever waited tables? Then how do either of you know anything about this?

    • Ignore Sara. She’s one of those who thinks that how many degrees you have matters for your intelligence level, as if someone with a doctorate couldn’t be a dumb ass. I’m about 100% certain the two universities I attended are higher ranked than her’s, yet I know from attending that there are some brain dead people at that level. People who can’t argue ideas usually argue education level or start making insults like her. A clear sign of Sara’s ignorance, not to mention her arrogance. Ironically, she doesn’t realize that someone like you with 7 years waiting tables is more qualified to comment on tipping than not only herself, but also the psychologist, sociologist, biologist, and scholars she implies would be more knowledgeable than you in this area.

      She’s like Damon in being blind to double standards in her reasoning.

  11. I am a white male. I believe tipping should be something done for good service, but understand that in America tipping is considered a requirement (it is indeed different in Europe). Unless the service I have received was Earth-shakingly bad, I will give a normal tip. Why? Because if I don’t, I’m worried I will get bad service the next time, or someone will spit in my food, etc etc. The last time I gave a cabby a bad tip for bad service, he tried to kill me. Now I always give a decent tip.

    You posit that EWB is caused by a sort of feedback loop, wherein severs expect a poor tip, black people expect poor service and act accordingly, servers provide poor service and blacks tip poorly, thus perpetuating the stereotype.

    I think it is important to note the difference in response between these two situations. I am essentially trying to bribe my way into getting good service — I am using positive reinforcement, while ‘blacks’ are punitive in their measures.

    Likewise, there is a ‘white neurosis’, though it is not nearly as prevalent as your ‘black neurosis’. I am not a racist, and I think racism, as well as other forms of discrimination, are horrible. However, I often come into contact with the idea that white people are racist by default, which leads me to self-censor, for fear that I will come across as racist.

    So now that the cards are on the table, it’s time to look to solutions. The fact of the matter is that you’re not going to be able to change people’s perceptions with words alone. Everyone has to stand up and take action. To deal with the problem of EWB, servers need to step up and stop assuming the worst about people, and they need to treat each customer as distinct from any other. Blacks, however, cannot rely solely on the good will of servers, however, and as such blacks who are bad tippers due to EWB need to start tipping better, including for bad service, if only because tips are included by default in a server’s pay so they have a lower minimum wage. If you know a biased server or a cheap tipper, try to get them to change their ways.

    I feel ridiculous putting so much thought into the issue of tipping, but the fact is that EWB is a microcosm representing the way discrimination in the rest of the world works. This means that people need to stop judging based on stereotypes, but it also means that people need to take care of reforming their cultures. In terms of blacks and whites, it means that whites need to be less tolerant of intolerance, but it also means being able to discriminate between real, harmful bigotry and dumb, meaningless things, to avoid fostering PC paranoia. It also means that blacks need to stop assuming the worst of whites, and they also need to deal with the negative aspects of ‘black culture’, such as guns and gangs.

    • David,

      Appreciate the level-headedness here.

      My only disagreement happens to be a pretty big one though. First, keep in mind that black people tip black servers worse than average as well. Every black person at Damon’s blog who spoke on the issue said that the stereotypes fit their experiences as well. So this isn’t just about black and white.

      Second, the customer holds the power in a customer-server relationship. They control the tip, they control how quickly they eat their meal, they control what demands they make, etc. The server is powerless in every aspect save for their tableside manner and their pace of meal.

    • sigma_since says:

      You know if you had posted this response on the Gucci Litttle Piggy blog, you would have been labeled a leftist, lover of negros, and had your white priviledge card removed. Damon’s VSB blog entry set out to connect the dots like you did but too many people focused on the tipping part.

  12. What strikes me the most throughout this discussion is Damon’s restraint and patience and the throughfulness of every response. I’m pretty good at diplomacy but I’m floored. This white Canadian girl is going to start reading Very Smart Brothas.

  13. Racism? Seriously? That’s child’s play. Try misanthropy. That’s where the fun is. For every black person you dislike there’s a white person who also serves as the object of your scorn. For every man there is a woman and for every adult there is a baby.

    I eat guys like “gl piggy” for dinner.

    Hahaha. Racists. So simple minded. Try thinking outside the box.

    • Yeah, I really hate babies. They tip like shit and tend to leave food crumbs all over the floor when they’re done eating.

      Please, more of these inane comments.

  14. A tip is exactly that, a tip! It shouldn’t be mandatory, it’s a response to good or exceptional service. Nobody should just expect to be given extra money for doing their job unless they do it well.

    • Have you even read any of this? Yeah, if you give crappy service expect to get a crappy tip. But if you get good service then tip accordingly. The point is that black folks tend to raise the bar on what they deem adequate service. Which is their preogative, but look at it from the server’s point of view. If they have a reasonable expectation that they are going to have to work harder for a decent tip on a certain table, why not just work a little harder on your other tables and boost those tips?

    • By the same standard you should walk out on the bill if you found the food subpar. You are paying a part of the server’s and other staff’s wages with your “tip”. Only gratuitous over-tipping is tipping in America. Under-tipping is actually stiffing them on the bill. So no, in America at least it is not a tip.

  15. Kathleen M. says:

    Two thoughts kept going through my mind as I read the comments to this piece. My first thought was that the piggy, oops, the lady doeth protest too much. Second, don’t feed the trolls. Thank you for the thoughtful piece Mr. Young.

  16. this whole conversation is funny to me mainly because i am black and i tip. i never tip below the recommended percentage even after receiving piss poor service and when service has been amazing i’ve given extra. why? cause i’m considerate at the very least. i won’t argue the right and wrong of situations like these but i will say no matter how much i keep MY OWN MIND above things like racism and racist thoughts and perceptions, it is nice to know that i’ll still be judged and labeled by my race and then be treated accordingly anyway. thank you civilized society.

  17. JD Justice says:

    You know what, here is MY question…why are we throwing away our disposable income into these wastelands of contempt? We DESERVE to be talked about by G.L. Piggy because we have lost our pride and our history (and I say this as a first generation American who is PROUD to be African American).

    SERIOUSLY. Look at our rates of obesity, unemployment, poverty and home ownership. Why do we struggle so hard to fit into — and gain the approval of — those that view us as floating pieces of sh#t? I had nights working til 3 am as a big law attorney. The day I stopped burning my hard earned cash down the drain pipe of “it” restaurants, was the beginning of a 45 pound weight loss that got me back to my college day curves and a fattened up savings account. And I don’t miss kissing up to snotty 18 year olds with 1/10th of my education or experience for cholesterol laden “delicacies.” When I eat my organic, locally-sourced, lower priced dinner, I can have all the spices and flavors I want without some wannabe actor rolling his eyeballs at me and I don’t have to feel so conscious about stereotypes that I over-tip for sub-par treatment. No, don’t proselytize, but steer your friends towards local entertainment and dinner parties, not expensive calorie orgies.

    Let’s have a discussion about that instead. Let’s talk about how we have 16% unemployment but the high end restaurants are importing European waiters for “cache”. We were okay for those jobs when it was free labor, but now we are “unqualified”? Eating out once in a while is fine, but we as a people need to RETHINK our priorities. ‘Nuf said.

    • Umm, Champ wrote a piece about this discussion though. You can’t expect someone to change the discussion. Besides, these discussions aren’t mutually exclusive. Point is, when a person does actually go to a restaurant they are expected to tip according to social custom. If and when they don’t, they can’t expect some sort of blowback.

      Since credentials are being tossed around though, I have a Master’s degree in Econ from a state school, yet I get shit on by patrons who have a fraction of *my* education. So what does that tell you?

      • JD Justice says:

        Hon, you can have a degree and still be ignorant. You lean on the credentials bit but I also “tossed” my experience. Here is your lesson for today: I’m not Jesus. So it’s actually not okay for you to project the behavior of some other person onto me and give me poor service preemptively. I don’t bear the yoke of every other sh*head you met even if there were 20 in a row right before I walked in …and one of them was my twin…my conjoined twin. See that’s RACISM. “Rational” racism is still RACISM and for an economist, its rather inefficient.

        If you are primarily concerned with your tips, better to learn to READ individuals on the basis of traits OTHER than race, to predict who will tip well. But you are too LAZY to do that which is why you have an advanced degree and are working as a waiter. Someone like me will not tip above 15% just to prove she’s not like those “other” blacks and she’s not going to overdress to prove a point. I’m stealth and I’m confident. If you don’t want to come back to my table to see how I’m doing, guess what? I won’t beg you to sell me dessert or another drink. My comment is therefore related to the discussion. People need to understand the dynamics of the restaurant industry so they won’t get disappointed or have any issues. Don’t walk in expecting to have your dignity or status validated by ignorant resentful wage slaves whose only claim to superiority are inherited traits or thick accents they did not earn. I’m a former cocktail waitress and I made so much in tips it covered housing for an entire semester. I KNEW what good service was, I knew what a shit drink order was and I knew how to READ people.

        These days, expect lousy, expensive, over-raved food and waiters who are not militant about ingredients, cooking process, ambiance, repeat business or food and wine pairings, but can calculate to a penny how much the tip should be and will blame YOUR RACE and not their pitiful work ethic if your tip alone wasn’t enough to subsidize their entire semester’s tuition or the cost of their sitcom auditions in L.A. Occasionally you will have a happy surprise and THAT’s where you go back and spend your money. Those other places? Drive by in a year and see if they’re still standing. Know your worth and discriminate with your wallet.

        • Question for you, wise old lady . . .

          If a black person in Alabama in the 1950s went to twenty different white-owned stores in a row and got overcharged each time and decided thereafter he was going to frequent black-owned stores which gave him better prices, would he be a racist? Based upon your logic in the above comment, your answer would be yes, unless of course you are a) illogical, b) ignorant, or c) a hypocrite.

          My guess is you are a combination of all three.

          The black person in Alabama would be wise (and a good economizer of his scarce resources, in this case money) by going where he was able to use his funds optimally. That’s not inefficient, that’s common sense. For a waiter (black or white) to wisely use his time on customers likely to tip is smart, and making a decision based on experience directly lived is called wisdom most most the time. It may be wrong on on occasion, but not in general. You may not like it, but then I didn’t like the shitty tips from black patrons and I don’t like being blamed for the problems of black society just because I’m white (or as you might call me: a 2520).

        • Sweetie, you brought up the credentials as if they mean anything. You played that card and then folded. So, yes, you are correct that one can have credentials and still be ignorant. You’ve made that quite clear.

          And your argument is not logically consistent. You think I should read people based upon certain other characteristics, tics, or behaviors but I can’t use the most obvious and indicative factor to make the same determination? Blackness is a really good screen in this case. Many other social deficiencies (in the realm of restaurants) tend to be coupled with a patron’s race.

          A smarter strategy i.e. mine would be to weigh all of those factors. Clean cut black person who looks me in the eye when I speak to them? Probably a decent tipper. As you should know, it takes about 2.5 seconds to size a patron up. And it’s pretty clear that black patrons have some sort of chip on their shoulder when dealing with service workers. But being a “big lawyer” you may not be aware of any of this.

          Your dig at my job given my education credentials is quite humorous, btw. I’d be curious to learn what school you went to and what your qualifying scores were. Just for fun.

  18. Damon,

    Nice article. I generally dislike these type of articles, because they usually miss the point, but I enjoyed your first article on race and didn’t comment, because there was little in the way of “kill whitey” in it. Good stuff. Intelligent and well written. Thank you.

    My opinion, but it comes down to a lack of trust on both sides. A negative feedback loop has been put into effect and its hard to assign blame anymore. Generally speaking, when I see in other white people demonstrate “bigoted” behavior, its usually because they feel it’s being directed towards them as well. If you approach a group of people and they generally seem to dislike you before you open your mouth, you might have had a neutral attitude, but its pretty easy to replace your ambivalence with hate, when it comes to people of other races. Similar to nationalism, I guess.

    I am not a racist, but I see “the code” in effect and it makes whites feel unwanted. White people speak in code as well, but we reverse it, because we usually use it around black people- when speaking about black people, its the hypersensitivity issue.

    You’re spot on with the neurosis idea, you can see racism in everything if you so choose, and Spike Lee was the first man to introduce me to this idea.

    Question: Why don’t more black people understand or talk about the fact that thousand upon thousands of white people died opposing slavery and racism? African Americans did not fight their war on racism alone and could not have made the advances they did, without a large segment of the white people in this country. Looking for some insight on this question.

    Thanks for encouraging the discussion.

    • “My opinion, but it comes down to a lack of trust on both sides. A negative feedback loop has been put into effect and its hard to assign blame anymore. ”

      I agree 100%.

      “Why don’t more black people understand or talk about the fact that thousand upon thousands of white people died opposing slavery and racism? African Americans did not fight their war on racism alone and could not have made the advances they did, without a large segment of the white people in this country”

      Hmm, I don’t think this is true. Anyone who’s read a history book or even watched “Glory” knows that white people played a considerable role in enacting change and that between losing lives, harming reputations, hurting careers, and even getting cut off by family, many faced negative consequences as well.

  19. Anonymous Male says:

    I’m one of those people who tends to think that “white privilege” is overused as an explanation for things, but I do think there is an element of truth to the idea that in American culture white people have some freedom to be “independent of race” that other groups don’t. In multi-ethnic settings, black people are often looked at as “representatives of their race,” while white people often are not. I don’t think there are many white people thinking “don’t talk about Lindsay Lohan while the black people are listening.” Not a lot of white people are considered “a credit to their race.”

    I think something similar shows up when a GMP editor asked a colleague, essentially, “hey, you’re a black guy, would you write an article about race?”

    When a white person does something stupid, very rarely do people think “he’s making white people look bad.” When a black person does something stupid, he is often held as an example of a black person doing something stupid. In fact, it’s even worse than this. Many people began to talk about Bill Clinton as being the “first black president” because of his behavior in the White House. Even when a white guy misbehaves, the only race-based explanation is because he’s black? Huh?

  20. Who knew that there was a stereotype that Blacks were poor tippers? I am fascinated with conversations of race, so when I went to read this link I was a bit surprised by some of the racist comments that such a generalization brought forth. “Free-riding”, really?

    I just wanted to say that whenever a racist white person is on the news, I cringe (I’m white). It makes me angry that such ignorance gets any air time. I worry that it perpetuates the stereotype that all whites are racist or have underlying racist tendencies. Although everyone at some time or another makes unfair generalizations, I think there is a difference between that and racism. I have relatives who are racist, what doesn’t get air time is how my husband and I take them to task whenever any garbage spews from their mouths. Correcting people’s thinking is hard. Correcting my own thinking when it comes to making generalizations is hard. But it is through the conscious effort and discussion of hard topics that change comes, so thank you for the article.

    • Poor tipping – when service was adequate – is free riding. Since the prevailing norm is one of 15-20% tips, anyone who doesn’t tip up to that standard is taking up time and resources that could have been devoted to waiting on other patrons who are going to meet that norm.

      In general, black people more than any other group come into a restaurant expecting 15-20% service while only paying for 10% service. Pay 10% service if you want – fine. But if patterns persist (and they do, they’re backed by academic research) then the group has to live with the consequences of it. It is human nature to stereotype; ask Juan Williams.

  21. fiftyfootroman says:

    discussions about race tend to make my eyes bleed. in high school, a classmate asked me if i was “a black girl who listens to white music and wants to be white.” i wasn’t the most articulate (and never argumentative) sort of kid, so i shouted “NO” in her face, and stormed away. since then, i’ve noticed most of my life revolves around similar situations, like when my hairdresser asks while she puts in my weave, with a twinge of suspicion in her voice, “do you even listen to hip-hop?” (the answer is yes. i just don’t listen to that crap on the radio. sorry about it). i wonder sometimes if i got my job, in an industry which notoriously lacks diversity (publishing), because my employers did a head count and decided they needed to fill the vacant position with someone from a certain demographic. it’s as though everyone, myself included, is trying to suss out the completely unanswerable question: what does it mean to be ? what do you do with a person who defies your assumptions? my intellectual side wants to have a deep discussion on the topic. the rest of me says: who cares? i’m doing me. i tip very well, even for shit service (i suppose that has a lot to do with “eating while black”) and if a server shies away from my table out of some fear that another cheap black person has come in to waste their time, i say: that’s their problem. carrying prejudice around–your problem. assuming things about people? your problem. i remember, before my mother passed, having to pad the tip because she would leave some miserable amount on a sizable bill. this had nothing to do with entitlement. it had everything to do with her being an immigrant and not understanding that tipping is the good old american way. am i picky? yes i am; i have food allergies and a tender stomach. do i expect a lot from my server? yes, yes i do. people expect a lot of me at my job, and i give it right back.(if you think about it, nearly everyone with a job is doing some type of service for another person). again: it’s nothing to do with entitlement and everything to do with self respect. i don’t feel that i need to be served better because of this country’s history. similarly, i don’t feel that that history gives me a reason to tip less. reading the selected comments on that “tipping while black” post was disheartening, but it also made me realize that people who carry that sort of hate in their hearts are to be pitied. i don’t “eat while black.” i “eat while me.”

  22. Wow! I’m shocked! I’m a white female (Scottish/Italian) who dates black men. From my own experiences I can say that black men tip just as much if not more than white men (or men of other races). My experiences come from being taken out to restaurants and from being a server at a fine dining establishment where I served people of different races.

    In all honesty, and from own experiences, middle-aged women are the worst tippers. I’m sure most servers in my geographical area would agree to this fact.

    Maybe it’s more about geography than race………..maybe not.

    I echo Daddy Files comment on writing about race related issues. It might not be fun, but it’s important.

    • Well since you have also bought into the stereotype game I can only shoot back by stating that your sample size is woefully small. Black dudes don’t tend to tip better than white dudes. Ask any server or read up on the literature that I’ve posted here at GMP.

      I can’t ignore that your first sentence – that you are a white girl who dates black men (exclusively? why don’t you date *men*) – sort of indicates your internal bias. you have a vested interest in the touting the tipping habits of the men who you have fondness for. a very natural tendency, but a tendency that supports an argument not at all in line with reality.

      and if we can continue the stereotyping here – which you are willing to engage in – it should be noted that it tends to be black men whose meals are paid for by their dates/girlfriends/wives more than any race of men. they do suffer from very high levels of unemployment at the moment.

  23. I’m BLACK. My dad believes in BIG tipping for excellent service. He’s from the Caribbean * he’s Black. I share his philosophy on this…If the service is good- I give a good tip, if it’s great – I leave a great tip. If I frequent a place & see the same staff I leave good tips because of the familiarity factor.

    Since I’m Black, I’m screwed before I walk into a place because we’re all painted with the same brush?

    Nice to know.

    • Never did I say that blacks are “screwed” before walking in the place. You’ve never stereotyped people based upon patterns displayed by others that they share characteristics with?

      Servers – white, black, whatever – have experienced very many bad tippers who happen to be black. There is a pattern there. Like anyone in any business anywhere servers naturally feel out the customer while hoping for the best. I go to a table of black patrons with the assumption that they will tip me less than white patrons and that they will run me more (more work for less pay). Since serving is a very social endeavor, it takes about 3 seconds to surmise if they will fit the stereotype or if they won’t.

      What’s funny is that I’ve heard black patrons on various boards complain about their food either coming out too fast or their food coming out after other tables. I’m curious which it is? This indicates to me that black patrons are willing to look for any excuse to justify their poor tipping and/or their hostility towards the restaurant and server. If a person displays behavior that seems to match with bad tipping (rudeness, shortness, lack of eye contact, bossiness, or open hostility) then their needs will be put on the backburner. So blacks don’t experience these things because whites set out to give them bad service from the get go. A well-mannered black table will receive service just like any other well-mannered group.

      • Sometimes and sometimes not. If one expects a person to complain, one may unconsciously do things to cause that person to complain. That in turn prompts that person to assume that they will always get treated poorly, causing them unconsciously behave in ways that might prompt a bad service. The whole thing feeds on itself.

  24. Blacks as a group tip poorly. There are reasons for this. There are a lot of different hypothesis for why black folks tend not to conform as readily to prevailing social norms. Champ presented his without much in the way of evidence and rehashed the blanket “Eating while black” argument which does nothing more than place control for the outcomes of black folks squarely in the laps of white people – in this case those of waiters and waitresses. But when do black people get to take responsibility for their own life outcomes?

    I responded to Champ’s post and then hypothesized about why one particular table of black people that a coworker of mine waited on were flabbergasted when they received their $120 tab (because you ordered food and drinks fools).

    Video below of the underlying attitude that servers a.) often deal with mostly from black patrons (I’ve never seen a white person cop this kind of attitude) and b.) believe lies barely below the surface layer of a good many black patrons and c.) don’t want to fuck with.


  25. If you’re talking to people who think black people in general are all retarded then I think you pretty much have to discount that person’s opinion out of hand. Because he/she is an idiot.

    I’m white. I also talk about everything to everyone, even when it makes people uncomfortable. Actually, sometimes I prefer making people uncomfortable depending on the topic. I’ve asked my gay friends, point blank, why they think they’re gay and we’ve talked about the use of the term “faggot” and calling things we don’t like “gay.” I’ve asked my black friends why they can use the word “nigger” but I can’t, even if it’s in the same context as they’re using it.

    We don’t always agree. Hell, I think there are times it’s literally impossible to agree, simply because we lack a fundamental understanding of what it’s like to come from certain cultures and backgrounds. And yeah, sometimes the discussion gets heated. But I’ve always come out of those talks enlightened in some way, having learned something I didn’t know before.

    While I understand your reticence to talk about race in front an audience who probably can’t have any idea where you’re coming from, I’m also sorry you feel that way. Because even though it’s probably not fun for you to do so, I think it’s important. Even if you don’t end up changing any minds, maybe at the very least you make a few of them think.

    And that’s never a bad thing. Either way, I liked the piece a lot and I hope you continue to write here.

    • I’ve asked my gay friends, point blank, why they think they’re gay and we’ve talked about the use of the term “faggot” and calling things we don’t like “gay.” I’ve asked my black friends why they can use the word “nigger” but I can’t, even if it’s in the same context as they’re using it

      My question to you would be why would you even want to use those words?

      • I notice you didn’t answer the question. Perhaps you didn’t understand it. He never said he wanted to use the word, just asked why there was double standard in the use of the term. One could ask that question about a lot of things, both in terms of white racism towards blacks, and black racism towards whites.

        Damon, you’re a good writer, seem pretty level-headed (though I disagree with your ideas on some issues), and you obviously have a large following and I respect your taking the time to deal with these issues and engage in the conversation. As Eric Holder said, it’s important for us to have an honest conversation about race. But that goes both ways.

        Not one race can be responsible for everything bad that happens to another, and thinking all white people are “privileged” because some white people are privileged doesn’t make sense either. One thing I notice among the black commentators on your blog is that they are quick to want to be judged as individuals, then in the next sentence, judge white people (or 2520) as a group when it comes to this so-called “privilege.”

        I grew up white and poor. My father spent time in prison, graduated from high school only, and drug use, alcoholism, and illegitimate children are features in my immediate and extended family. But according to the logic of many of your commentators (and perhaps yourself), the son of a black and well-educated multimillionaire in a stable two parent family is somehow less privileged then me or other whites in similar situations.

        As someone who voted for Obama (mostly because I detest McCain and 8-years of Bush) and as someone who believes in judging individuals by the content of their character (as MLK did) I have a hard time taking most blacks seriously when they begin to pull the race card for every slight, real and imagined, and when they claim that I’m somehow to blame for past oppression or current lack of success among members of the black community, and that I (the great grandson of immigrants who came after slavery ended) must somehow give blacks special treatment or reparations (in whatever form . . . affirmative action, etc).

        If we really want to improve race relations, then race hustlers like Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and many others (H.L. Gates and “The Root” for instance) need to take a step back and really identify the problems in the black community and not use the racism alibi every ten seconds. Most problems that individuals, groups, and countries have are due to internal, not external factors. Only by taking a hard look at those factors and working hard to address them can things really improve. Constantly blaming others, especially when the cause of the problem and its solution are internal, only allows the problem to get worse.

        Best and good luck. I look forward to reading your work again in the future.

        The Dude

      • It’s not that I have a desire to use those words. I heard them use the words talking to one another and so I asked because I was curious. I love words and I have a hard time believing it’s acceptable for one group of people to use a word but not another. So I asked them because I wanted to know.

        Why so defensive? As a writer I thought furthering discussion would be looked at as a good thing.

        • Daddy Files,

          I get “defensive” when questions like that are brought up because the answer is so obvious that I assume that the person asking the question is just trying to be a smart-ass. Basically, white people can’t call blacks nigger and straight people can’t refer to gays as faggots for the same reason that my mom calls my dad by his first name but he’s always going to be “dad” to me. There’s a familiarity that my parents share that, despite how close I am to them, I’ll never be a part of, and I’m ok with that. I have no reason or desire to ever call my dad by his first name anyway. This same concept could be applied to superiors at work, close friends, men and women, members of the clergy, etc. Some lines you just don’t cross out of respect.

          • So are you saying that ‘races’ are akin to extended family?

            The problem with your analogy is that your parents could get divorced, both go on to remarry white spouses, and the new couples will be on a first name basis.

            All of your examples include lines that you can cross. I can get a promotion at work and become a peer of my former superiors. I can become a member of the clergy. There are rites in which I could be initiated in any particular group to be treated as a member of that group erasing barriers that created a disparity. To be able to be ‘black’ I have to be born that way. I have no particular reason to ‘respect’ black people for an accident of birth either. ‘Being black’ isn’t the same thing as becoming a Bishop or the CEO of a company. Depending on the person, perhaps they don’t respect those things either, but there are achievements they do accord respect to. Being born isn’t in the same category.

            • “All of your examples include lines that you can cross.”

              Although my Mom and Dad will always be Mom and Dad to me, I see what you mean. But, I think you’re getting too caught up on whether my analogy was perfect instead of the point I’m trying to make.

              I’m actually both tired of having this discussion about “nigger speaking rights” and intrigued by those who want to continue to have this debate. I guess this makes me ambivalent about this issue.

              I mean, there are hundreds of thousands of words in the English language (millions if you include Pittsburghese and Wu-Tang lyrics). I really just don’t understand why saying “Hey, can you just not say this one word, please? Thanks in advance!” receives such pushback.

      • Gaily Anonymous says:

        Word meaning is fluid. With a concerted effort, people can change the common meaning of words. In some cases you can take an insult and make it into a source of pride. You can now get a degree in Queer Studies, for example. See also Inga Muscio’s book _Cunt: A Declaration of Independence_. Sometimes the meaning of a word can change virtually overnight. Just ask the Hon. Rick Santorum, or anyone named “Peg.”

        I don’t know if the n-word is salvageable, but even some of the most reprehensible words have lost their sting. My “Baptist” ancestors were burned at the stake for being “Protestant.” Their descendants have made a remarkable recovery….

    • Also, I didn’t mean to imply that you actually wanted to cross those lines. But, I honestly don’t understand where that question comes from.

      • Damon,

        Perhaps you need a white person to educate you on how to think about black people. One thing I’ve read on your blog, both by you and commentators, and on the “Good” men project site in articles by blacks, is the need for white people to be educated by blacks on how to understand blacks. Perhaps you don’t understand that a white person has difficulty understanding how double standards biased against whites and racism towards whites is okay when such behavior towards other groups is wrong. Perhaps I ought to write a blog post called “The Black Person’s Guide to Understanding White People.:” What do you think?


        • Correction. Should read: “Perhaps you need a white person to educate you on how to think about white people.”

        • I just mentioned this upthread, but I’m curious to see your answer to this question:

          “There are hundreds of thousands of words in the English language (millions if you include Pittsburghese and Wu-Tang lyrics). I really just don’t understand why saying “Hey, can you just not say this one word, please? Thanks in advance!” receives such pushback.”

          • It doesn’t receive pushback. The vast majority (probably more than 90-95% of white people) think calling someone a nigger is wrong. What they disagree with is the notion that it’s somehow okay to use racist language against whites (like “2520” or “Caspar” or “honkey”).

            Both sets of words are wrong. Calling someone who is white one of those three terms is just as wrong as calling a black person a nigger. The difference is that whites seem recognize the wrongness of the word nigger, but you and many blacks (as evidenced by the number of racial epithets towards whites on your blog) don’t seem to get it. To whites, this is a double standard.

            We’ll have to agree to disagree, but I find it difficult to understand why some black people think that their racism towards whites is somehow less repugnant than white racism towards black. Both are repugnant and should be eliminated.

    • I have a related question about having different vocabulary rules for different groups of people.
      The anonymous nature of the internet complicates that, it seems to me. If someone whose race is not evident uses “nigger” or “whitey” on a blog, of if the sexual orientation is not evident when the person writes “dyke” or “breeder,” do we give the author the benefit of the doubt, or do we demand some kind of identification before letting the writer get away with it? It seems ludicrous that other bloggers would call someone on it and then be reassured enough to say, “oh, okay, you say you’re black and gay, so never mind, carry on.” Presumably there would be some standard of proof that a blogger could put forth – well, his thumbnail photo looks like he’s black and gay, so okay, you can use those words.

  26. What a disheartening article to read first thing in the morning! Makes me wonder why I (a black woman) have been doing all this tipping all these years if no one seems to notice or appreciate it. :-S

    Also, it’s quite a leap to go from “blacks tend not to tip as well” to “blacks are jerks and just a notch above retarded.” I see that the anonymity of the Internet makes people say all sorts of ridiculousness.

    But you should be happy to know that I won’t take these people’s opinions to heart, and will continue to tip my customary 15 to 20% (for good service), and 0 to 10% for bad to mediocre service.

    • GirlGlad4theGMP says:


      You do the tipping because/based upon the service you received. It makes no diference how someone reacts to it. Besides, do you really know if each of your individual servers actually appreciated it?

      The server does his/her part by providing aqedquate (or better) service, and as social contract dictates, the patron does his/her part by providing an aqedquate (or better) tip.

      I am disenheartened however, to hear this has taken a racial tone. Tipping, tipping well or tipping poorly is an individual issue, based on upbringing and beliefs, as well as reconilitation with social standards (geeze to the 10% rule) and of course, service received.

    • GirlGlad4theGMP says:

      And to the whole blacks being jerks and just a notch above retarded commentary, clearlyt he person who said that is just a notch above retarted themselves…at least he knows how to turn on a pc and post a comment, but on the evolutionary scale, I think that’s where it ends 😉

    • “What a disheartening article to read first thing in the morning! Makes me wonder why I (a black woman) have been doing all this tipping all these years if no one seems to notice or appreciate it. :-S”

      LOL, like the article states, it’s doubtful that most servers share the same racial views as gl piggy. I’m sure your tips have been appreciated

      • Damon,

        You are right that most servers don’t share the same racial views as I do. But they don’t share the view because they don’t really think about what causes this. I’ll tell you that the consensus argument for the reason for poor black tipping is that blacks either are trying to get back at servers for slavery or that they are just assholes. Personally, I’m not content to say that someone tips poorly because they are just an asshole. I think there are other motives behind it. I think I’ve just been caught up because I’m one of the few white people or servers to address the topic and to explore reasons for this general difference in tipping and restaurant behavior.

        I think you would wish that I and other servers would just view all patrons as human. But that’s just silly. Humans stereotype. Jesse Jackson himself stated that he crosses the street when he comes across black male youth in the streets.

        • Bigots have been trying to lend their views the veneer of scientific rigor for generations, from co-opting Darwin’s theories in support of their bias to sliding gleefully all the way down the racial rabbit hole. Eugenics and movements like it sought to build support for bigoted views whose only quantifiable supports are the holder’s disdain for the group under discussion. Not exactly a quantifiable and replicable controlled environment in which to conduct “research” and garner scientific support for one’s hypothesis.

          Talk of sample sizes and statistical majorities and other pseudo-scientific code words used to strengthen the position of folks inclined to believe in and spread the bigotry they’re going to believe in and spread regardless of evidence to the contrary is silly. The notion that a single person’s obviously limited experience in the service industry somehow counts as scientific certainty is also silly. Shouting biased views into an echo chamber peopled with those who think of minorities as you do and who are apt to ape your views and support them with a more violent and virulent strain of bigotry no more lends credible weight to your views than my disagreement with your stance lends weight to mine.

          Talk of servers and their belief that Blacks tip poorly and lending their beliefs the weight of an entire online forum comprising impassioned commentary (like mine, I know) would seem to validate their view. This is ridiculous. Citing examples of Blacks who tip well to throw deeply bigoted folks off the scent? Also ridiculous. Furthering the stereotype that one or several Blacks speaks for or is otherwise representative of the larger Black cohort is intellectually dishonest and lazy.

        • GL Piggy,
          I have been a (white) server for over 7 years and have paid attention to and thought a lot about racial stereotypes and its causes. I disagree with you and the other servers who make ridiculous and disparaging generalizations about black patrons.
          Here are the elements that I think are at play:
          1. A percentage of patrons are bad tippers. Because it is a commonly-held belief that black patrons are bad tippers, a server will remember when s/he receives a bad tip from a black patron but will not pay attention to all of the times white people tipped poorly.
          2. Because many white servers seem to believe that black patrons are bad tippers, they serve with this belief on their sleeves and give shitty service. Not only do I think black people have the same intellectual abilities as their white counterparts, but I also believe that they are as perceptive as us white folks and can discern when racial discrimination is at play.
          3. Because black patrons encounter this often when they are dining out, there is a degree of distrust during encounters with white servers (Damon mentioned this). I do not know if this distrust just exists or if it also impacts the tip. But believe me, if I were dining out and thought my server was sexist, I wouldn’t tip him well in spite of how good the service was.
          I also cannot commiserate with you about black patrons being pickier and more demanding than other patrons. I have not seen their behavior to be any different than other races. (In fact, if any demographic were to be labeled pickier and demanding, it would definitely be rich white people.) Nor have I noticed black patrons to have more bugs, hair or plastic in their food than other races. And, if they did have something wrong with their food, they should expect it to be taken care of immediately despite what other tasks I have. We as servers need to prioritize our tasks and anything wrong with the food at the table needs to be the first priority. There is no racial element at play with that…it is Serving 101.

          • Brittany,

            I don’t know if people are averse to reading academic studies or what but I’ve posted many links here, at my blog, and at Champ’s blog which provide at least some insight into these questions.

            1. It has been documented in academic research that blacks tip worse than whites even when controlling for income, education, and other demographics.

            2. Even when black patrons perceive the service to meet a certain adequate level they tip worse than white patrons.

            3. You are venturing into circular argument territory. You are accepting that black patrons wouldn’t tip with a unfair bias against the server – that, on average, blacks might be overly sensitive to how the white server perceives them. Funny then that, as per the evidence, black patrons also tip black servers worse than white patrons tip black servers.

            Here’s another one I’ll throw at you. All of this research has been conducted by a guy named Michael Lynn of Cornell University. He also found that black patrons tip white servers *worse* when those servers lean on the table, crouch down to gain some semblance of intimacy with the patrons, or sit down at the table. The tip % decreases. But, the reverse effect was found when the white server crouched or sat with white patrons. Those tips increased. What does this tell me? Black patrons are going into restaurants just looking for something to be wrong or to ding a server on the tip for.

            Can’t win for trying. I encourage you to read server tipping forums online if you are interested in learning the general consensus on this subject.

            The thing about Champ’s piece is that he wasn’t even willing to entertain any of these arguments. He wrote this piece without even looking at the research on the topic or even speaking to other servers. He is wholly ignorant of the topic but felt the need to lend his opinion on it.

            • Hi GL Piggy,

              Thank you for your response. I have no vested interested in this issue beyond the truth. I am just fascinated by people and social issues.

              My original response about my 7 years of experience as a server was meant as a basis of comparison to your 7 years of experience as a server. I consider myself to be self aware, and I have not observed a difference in black vs. white tipping and have never “been run” before. I cannot speak to your experiences of black patrons tipping you less because I wasn’t there so I gave you the benefit of the doubt and did not question the premise of whether or not they generally tipped less than other races. That was never my point.

              I am not averse to reading studies like you unfortunately implied, but I also never addressed whether black patrons tipped less and the studies you cited are limited in what they actually mean. I do have a social science degree, was academically taught how to analyze studies and consider the scientific method to be our best way of discovering the truth. However, in the social sciences, a statistically positive correlation cannot prove causation. There are too many variables (known and unknown) to control for and which may be skewing the data. And numbers are never the entire story.

              Although you had a few studies to support the tip disparities among races, what I disagreed with from your many posts, the quotes Damon cited and your article “Not Tipping While Black” is your assertion that black people who tip less are like infants, looking to free ride by tipping poorly or looking for excuses for free meals and are bitter with a chip on their shoulder. You do not offer any proof that these are the motivations for tipping less and none of the studies you cite mention these as potential variables to explain the raw data from their various methodologies and limited samples.

              You have created this meaning of black patrons’ motivations, and it is your description of what is occurring that makes people less likely to take you seriously. Again, although my experience has been different, I am not arguing against the statistics of the studies you cited, just your reasons for it.

              I recommend you read page 21 of the Cornell study that you cite which lists all of the variables that may affect any racial differences in tipping that should be studied in order to fully understand what social/cultural/historical dynamics are at play. The various studies the Cornell study cites use small samples and in most cases are only statistically valid when results are combined. I appreciate that they controlled for variables like socio-economic income and the race of the server (though they acknowledge that this study was too small to be legitimate), but they didn’t study regional differences where racial tensions certainly vary, the server’s attitude and subtle behavioral differences, cultural differences in attitudes toward money or the nine other potential variables the Cornell study recommended be examined. Even if after controlling for every variable black patrons as a whole tipped less than other races, you still cannot extrapolate that black patrons who tip less are like infants, looking to free ride by tipping poorly or looking for excuses for free shit and are bitter with a chip on their shoulder.

              As an example of your unsupported extrapolation of racial tipping disparities: the study you just brought up stated that black patrons tip less if a server is physically imposing but white patrons tip better if the same behavior is exhibited. You interpreted this to mean: “What does this tell me? Black patrons are going into restaurants just looking for something to be wrong or to ding a server on the tip for.”

              And what does that tell me? That black patrons have different acceptable physical boundaries than white patrons do. And, you know, there may be more to the story than what I offer, but it seems simplistic and negative to assume they are all just looking for a free ride, which seems to be your overall default position regarding black people.

              • Wait, so you’re willing to accept that black patrons might have different acceptable physical boundaries? Isn’t that stereotyping?

                • According to my college Sociology book:

                  “Stereotypes are exaggerated descriptions applied to every person in some category.”

                  I don’t know why the study revealed black patrons generally tipped less if the server was physically imposing, but there is a documented difference. Identifying why there is a documented difference is not stereotyping…it’s science.

                  I was merely pointing out that you have some deep-seated beliefs about black people that you cannot proclaim studies support.

                  • I guess you’re talking about my infant and free-rider comments.

                    Those were generalizations and more applicable, in my opinion, to people who tend to tip worse and behave like jerks in restaurants. In my experience – and research bears this out (nobody has yet to show me that the research I’ve provded is incorrect btw) – it is black folks who are more likely to tip worse.

                    But all races of people have the ability to act like infants in restaurants. Not all blacks act that way, but my point was that more of them do. And when they do, the situation is especially tense because, as a white person, my hands are pretty much tied. I could tell a white patron to shut the fuck up, but I have to walk on egg shells around black people for obvious reasons. Any semblance of racialism would be a sure-fire way to get fired. But all of that is neither here nor there.

                    Any sort of unjustified crappy tipping is free-riding. I never said that only black people free ride. Just that, on average, blacks free ride more often. When you’re eating at a restaurant the server assumes that he or she will receive 15-20%. They should serve up to an adequate standard. If they do so and then don’t get the tip, their time, energy, and service was diverted from other tables that did meet the tip standard.

                    I can make this point clearer by assuming a patron who announces before the meal that they aren’t going to tip at all. They will get served, but their priorities will be pushed to the bottom of the pile. But patrons don’t do this because they want to receive 15% service for free. Thus, free-riding.

      • Damon,

        On your blog, a lot of the black commentators use the term “2520” to refer to white people (the 25th and 20th letters of the alphabet being Y and T, hence “Whitey”) and do so in a derogatory context in relation to white people’s putative ignorance about racism or the “privilege” they supposedly have by virtue of being born white.

        I would appreciate your thoughts as to whether or not this is racist language, or are blacks incapable of racism because they supposedly lack power or privilege? If it’s not racist language, how is it different from other racist terms like gook or nigger?

        I’m genuinely interested in your response.

        The Dude

        • “I would appreciate your thoughts as to whether or not this is racist language”

          It’s a silly colloquialism that’s usually used as just a silly colloquialism and inside joke among ourselves, but I will say that I’ve never been a fan of that term and I don’t use it. So, to answer your question, yes this language could be racially offensive (and yes, black people can be racists), but if you truly and sincerely don’t understand why it’s not the same nigger or gook or faggot — words invented to demean, degrade, and dehumanize —- then I’d, well, I’d feel very, very bad for you.

          • Actually, it is the same. It was invented for the same reason, just by a different group. And so you know, nigger didn’t start out a bad racist word, it just started out as a descriptor.

            “The word originated as a term used in a neutral context to refer to black people, as a variation of the Spanish/Portuguese noun negro, a descendant of the Latin adjective niger, meaning the color “black”.”

            See here and get your facts straight: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigger

            I’m the one who feels bad here, for you for not recognizing prejudice when you see it, and for other blacks who use racist language. That said, I would like to thank you for answering the question and not using it and not being racist, though I have to say, some of your blogs posts such as your “guides” for white people are demeaning.

            The Dude

          • Anonymous Male says:

            I guess I’m what you’d call a white guy. I think racial categories themselves are idiotic, but that’s what most people would label me. Anyway, I think “2520” is kind of funny, actually. I’m gonna remember that one. All the racial slurs that someone could make about “white” people make me laugh – cracker, honkey, whitey, Casper, gringo, gabacho, big nosed white devil, haoli, you name it. It’s totally a racist double-standard that slurs about whites don’t really sting all that much to most of us. (I can understand it if some white people did feel some offense.) It’s one of those double standards that I just don’t think is a big deal. I don’t find white stereotypes all that hurtful, either – ha ha, I have no rhythm, I can’t jump very high, I have no ass, I have a nasally voice.

    • Crystal,

      I won’t speak for what all servers appreciate. I am angered by many of the people I work with who think that they can deliver subpar service to anyone and still deserve 20%. But if black people tip according to custom their tips are certainly appreciated.

      I think that most servers just don’t want to be run or disrespected and *then* given a bad tip. As I’ve said many times here, it is black patrons who tend to do this more than other patrons. So it’s one thing to get a bad tip, but it’s quite another to be shat on during the process.

      So I could sit here and say over and over that I’m only talking about a certain portion of the black population, but I think that such a qualification is a foregone conclusion. Not all black people are like this; these are generalities. Your adequate tip is appreciated. Without customers of all races servers wouldn’t have jobs. I’m grateful for all of the money that I receive because once a table sits down in my section anything above $0 is gravy.

  27. I’ve been around Italians and Jewish people, etc. and they do the same. Italians talk about mob stereotypes via The Sopranos and Jersey Shore and Jewish people talk about Alan Dershowitz, Zionists, and whatever else might come up in the course of a conversation. And the Casey Anthony has white folks foaming at the mouth, especially parents, in public and private. On the topic of tipping, it’s more of a class distinction, rather than a racial one. Many servers with upscale white clientele complain that they are lousy tippers. And sometimes, Black folks of varying classes MIGHT be lousy tippers but we only hear about the lousy Black tippers. We should rigorously question the assumptions that are made about us and about other groups.

    • “And the Casey Anthony has white folks foaming at the mouth, especially parents, in public and private”

      i see what you’re getting at, but comparing the casey anthony case doesn’t really work here, because they — white people — are foaming out the mouth in anger and disbelief… not because they think that she has somehow “let down her race”

      • Damon,

        I understand your point here, but I would say au contraire, when I hear the comment that white people from Florida are “the lowest form of white man in the country,” I have to disagree.

        I mean, do you watch cops. Every white, red-necked hill billy they bust, makes half of this country go, “oh my god.” We too shake our head in disbelief at when every cops episode highlights some white-trash batting it out for supremacy over the remote control. Ever see a WWF crowd, watch David Duke give a speech or hear a Johnnie Rocker interview? God its embarrassing to be white dude at times…

        I’m just sayin’

  28. Mohammad Ashraf says:

    I’ve been interning with a grassroots civil rights organization called the Michigan Roundtable for much of this past year, and I’ve had the chance to engage in discussions and dialogues about racism and it’s presence in our everyday lives. I learned about the structure of racist systems and policies that keep people of color at a disadvantage to this day. In that note I found this article very intriguing as it gives me new insight into the different levels racism and how it affects our day to day lives. I think the prejudice and discrimination in restaurants is part of the structure of racism and it’s given me new insight into the nature of race relations. It seems to me that there is a cycle of animosity between White people and people of color that continues to perpetuate racist sentiment. I’m inspired continue this conversation with my colleagues.

    • “I think the prejudice and discrimination in restaurants is part of the structure of racism and it’s given me new insight into the nature of race relations”

      I probably should have mentioned this in the article, but the whole black people are shitty tippers thing isn’t all about race and racism. there are a good number of us who just don’t know that you’re supposed to tip.

      • That is certainly part of it. But as per other studies – one which was linked by The Root – black patrons view tips as some sort of reward for superior service rather than just part of the cost of eating out.

        If a person views a tip as an extra reward then it is certainly more variable and subjective. All I can say to this is that someone like me is doing a service for black folks in that I’m cluing them in to what social norms dictate. I’m not saying tipping schemes are perfect but that’s the prevailing culture and you have to pay to play.

        I feel I should expand on some of the things you quoted from my blog. I addressed one particular incident where a table of black people were decrying the largess of their bill with “Oh Lawd” and what-not. Some of my commenters toyed with the idea that this stemmed from the inability to do math, an idea that I didn’t directly address nor agree with. Instead, I think that black culture sort of plays on the idea that black people are cheap. A black person decrying the cost of their dinner is probably acting out a “black” script where they’re somewhat expected to recoil at food bills. I found this interesting in light of something else that black people are typically known for – spending a lot of money on their vehicles and clothes. The car is a necessity that good money will be invested in, but the dinner is some sort of add-on and the service and the meal aren’t considered to be a consumer good in the same way that cars are.

        • “I found this interesting in light of something else that black people are typically known for – spending a lot of money on their vehicles and clothes. The car is a necessity that good money will be invested in, but the dinner is some sort of add-on and the service and the meal aren’t considered to be a consumer good in the same way that cars are.”

          The only way this argument works is if you can prove that the same people who are habitually shitty tippers are leaving the restaurant in their $500 shoes and getting into their Escalades. You have no way of knowing whether this is true, so why make that implication?

          • Hold up, Damon. You wrote an entire post – the one that got all of this started – without “proof”. You hypothesized about why “eating while black” exists. I have provided proof for a good many of my assertions – or as much proof as there is on the subject. My hypothesis merely needs to fit into the existing proof which exists in the form of academic research on the subject (which you haven’t even addressed) and anecdotes from myself and a good many commenters over at your own blog.

            • For some reason Damon believes in double standards. Calling white people “whitey” is an inside joke, nothing’s wrong with it. Calling black people niggers is racism.

              Not having proof when complaining of alleged racism or making generalizations about white people being racist is okay. Not having proof when you’re white and make a generalization about blacks is racist.

              The greatest thing blacks can do for themselves is deal with reality as it is, to not make excuses and blame others for their troubles, and to take responsibility for their own success.

              I wonder if blacks realize how much credibility they lose among generally liberal, non-racist whites, when they engage in double standards and try and foist their problems on others and play the victim so often.

              • “For some reason Damon believes in double standards. Calling white people “whitey” is an inside joke, nothing’s wrong with it. Calling black people niggers is racism.”

                Chill with the dramatic hyperbole. I didn’t say that there’s nothing wrong with “2520” and you know I didn’t. .

                • To be fair, I was dinged by some (I’m not sure if you did or not, but I thought you did) for some of my commenters using racially tinged language. It would only be fair that your commenters’ derogatory terms reflect on you too.

            • Fuck. Had a long reply typed out, but the page refreshed before I was done.

              Anyway, my main point was that I’ve yet to see any “race realist” acknowledge the role that racism played in shaping this country. Yes, for the past, I dont know, 40 years, things have been much, much, much better, but that doesn’t really make up for the 150 or 200 or so years of (legalized) shittiness. As Chris Rock said in one of his specials, (paraphrasing) America to black people is like the uncle that paid for your college education in full…but raped you when you were a child.

              Basically, I look at eating while black as a multi-layered manifestation of a neurosis that’s been building for decade, and that this phenomenon is caused by many factors — racism, ignorance, class, accountability, etc — some created by whites and some the fault of ignorant and/or “entitled” blacks. On the other hand, it seems like your stance is “black people are just fucked up completely (through absolutely no fault of ours), and “eating while black “proves this”

      • Damon,

        Through the course of this entire debate I forgot to bring up taxi cab tipping studies. A prominent one is listed below.


        The researchers – from Yale, University of Alabama, and Harvard – wrote in their abstract:

        “Regressions suggest that a “rational” statistical discriminator would expect African Americans to tip 56.5% less than white passengers. ”

        Just because of the way it is set up, waiting tables involves rational discrimination. Sometimes black patrons are discriminated against, but even a dining room full of white diners involves discrimination as well.

        But it is interesting that even within a closed system where there is little room for seller-patron discrimination or provision of poor serve, blacks still tip poorly. What, did the cab riders not experience good enough service while being driven from point A to point B?

        So I must maintain that you deride my arguments which built upon and added to your initial piece on this topic. I fel that you shortchanged the argument and settled for the same tired points that are always made and which haven’t really furthered the debate to any great extent.

        • GL,

          The exact same argument applies for the cabs. In fact, it’s actually a much stronger argument. I’ve literally seen dozens of news features, stories, and studies about how blacks are discriminated against by cabbies, and that’s not even including the numerous anecdotes from famous blacks who still get stiffed.

          I assume your counter argument will be the same as it’s been, and then my counter argument will be the same as it’s been, and then you’ll cite some study about how blacks don’t tip doorman or club bouncers or the shoeshine guy, and we’ll start all over again.

          • So black cab patrons don’t then tip the patrons that actually do pick them up? Do you see how this mentality, as it applies to a larger number of blacks than whites, is debilitating?

            There are only two solutions to this: 1.) Change the way in which service workers earn their money and 2.) Preach it high and low that black folk are the only ones who can break the stereotypes by which they suffer. You have a big platform, Champ, but you took a different tack. You wanted to keep the pressure on the “whites are racist” meme.

            You think the cab argument would be the same, but I think it helps push my point in the restaurant realm. Blacks complain about not being able to get cabs. Cabbies are independent contractors who have every right (within their city’s system of granting cap licenses) to choose their fares. And since asymmetric information pervades the relationship – the pedestrian knows what they plan to tip, the cabbie doesn’t – the cabbie has to rely on stereotypes and probabilities to help make his time efficient.

            I’d ask you, can you blame him for doing so?

            • I knew a guy who droves Cabs in Miami for a few years and tipping had absolutely nothing to do with not picking up blacks. The reason he avoided them was two fold, first off every cabbie he knew that had been assaulted or worse while at work had it done to them by a black man, secondly blacks were famous for skipping out on the entire fare once they were close to their destenation and of course the cabbie had to eat the fare, stop the excuses, and change the behavior.

            • “So black cab patrons don’t then tip the patrons that actually do pick them up? Do you see how this mentality, as it applies to a larger number of blacks than whites, is debilitating?”

              Not denying that it can be “debilitating” (or, at least as debilitating as not getting picked up by a cab can be). Just giving a reason why certain attitudes exist.

              (Btw, still waiting for the acknowledgement of white racism’s role in all of this…)

          • Damon,

            There was a newspaper article on this in DC years ago while I was in school. Blacks were complaining about not being picked up by cabs . . . and it was nearly always by black cab drivers!

            The reasons: more likely to stiff you or want you to go to a dangerous place where you could be robbed. The then black head of the taxi commission defended the black cab drivers, especially since one had been murdered by a black in Anacostia the previous month.

            The article, of course, tried to make it sound like white racism was to blame. Perhaps you think that black cab drivers refusing to pick up black customers is also the result of white racism?

            Might as well blame the racist earthquake that hit DC earlier today. It is after all, the chocolate city. And Obama hasn’t hit a hole in one on vacation, obviously because of the racist white golf ball.

            I would have a lot more respect for you if you gave a fair shake to those who disagree with you and held yourself and your fellow blacks to the same standard you people hold white people when it comes to racist language and personal behavior.

            • You two, Dude and Piggy, seem to have a very poor understanding of institutionalized racism in our society and how it has affected race relations over the years. You also have a clearly hostile tone about black people which shows you are anything but impartial.

              Are you of the understanding that racism ended a long time ago and black people are the ones causing all their problems today? Do you refuse to acknowledge how white privilege and discrimination has affected our society?

              • sigma_since says:

                Nope. I’ve lifted some of the responses from my brief interaction on the Gucci Litttle Piggy blog:

                sigma_since93 08/18/2011 at 8:44 pm
                @ Lara

                Wouldn’t you then agree that most of the problems we now see are attributable to the following:

                1. Whites set the table for a long time.
                2. Policy has evolved (although not successfully in all occasions) to provide access to the table.
                3. Policy legislated to change man actions does not change the hearts of man; whites are reluctant to give up seats and blacks are looking for the “gotcha!” we were just playing no access for you moment.

                Typical responses

                PA 08/18/2011 at 9:14 pm
                This metaphoric table and state is not created out of thin air, requiring people to “share” or “take turns at it.’

                This table describes an orderly, wealthy, interesting and fun society that whites create wherever they go, and blacks show little evidence of being able to create or maintain it. Though a hell of a track record for screwing it up.

                So its our fucking table, we built it, and you are at it thanks to the white man’s good graces. So mind your fucking table manners.

                • sigma_since says:

                  I wonder how many of the individuals that clicked dislike picked the button because they did not like the responses I got when I went to the Gucci Litttle Piggy blog or if they are GLP’s blog readers posting on this site?

                  I didn’t like the responses either and asked why there was very little diversity in thought amongst the bloggers. I have yet to get a reply.

              • Katie,

                You’re maintaining that *servers* are carrying forth institutionalized racism and that all of a sudden the subservient person actually has power in the relationship?

                So by your argument nothing that black people do that is ostensibly negative or non-conformatory is ever their fault.

                If black folks want to see change here it is up to them to do something -whatever it is, Tavis Smiley and other prominent black folks have discussed poor tipping among blacks – about it. I’m a god damn server and now I’m a benefactor of institutional racism? Please.

                • “Are you of the understanding that racism ended a long time ago and black people are the ones causing all their problems today? Do you refuse to acknowledge how white privilege and discrimination has affected our society?”

                  Still haven’t answered her questions. And, “answering her questions” doesn’t mean twisting her words to accuse her of saying something that she clearly did not say.

                  • You’re one to speak about answering questions, Champ. You’ve skirted every point I’ve made – namely, how can you even speak on this topic of “Eating While Black” when you a.) didn’t do a lick of research on blacks and tipping and b.) have never waited tables in your life and don’t seem to have spoken to any servers on the topic. And you want to come over and start hypothesizing about why black people are supposedly treated unfairly by waitstaff.

                    But I didn’t answer Katie’s question directly because I don’t see how institutionalized racism informs the decisions of waiters and waitresses. We are the powerless party in the exchange. Our job title actually contains the word “serve”, but you want to make the argument that whites (and other servers of diff. ethinicities and races) are the ones perpetuating racism.

                    If anything is institutional it is that black folks tend to not feel that they have to tip for the services they receive or that they have a higher bar than social standards dictate for what constitutes adequate service.

                    Further, I didn’t address Katie’s question because it paints the issue in rather black and white terms – metaphorically speaking. Some racism exists, but I am of the mind that black folks haven’t done all that much to try to change their own values and behaviors which enables the black community to rely on the crutch of institutionalized racism so long as they lag behind other groups.

      • “..there are a good number of us who just don’t know that you’re supposed to tip.”

        Ya know I started to ask how this could be possible and then remembered my father didn’t know how to tip either. I didn’t know this until I was far into adulthood and we went out to eat and I happened to see what he left on the table. I had to pretend I had forgotten something go back inside to give the waitress money.

        • you know (looking both ways to see if it’s safe to admit this here) I didn’t know you were supposed to tip bartenders until I was maybe 25

          • sciguy1987 says:

            To bump a 2 year old thread, how could you really know? Im 26, and when my parents were adults they could not even eat at a restaurant in Louisiana so when were they to learn how to tip. My mom just always tipped $5 when I was a kid and thought she was tipping well, no matter the cost of the meal. I didn’t know about the 15% rule until I was 18, had a lobster dinner, and tipped $5. I always tipped $5 too, so the pizza guys were obviously happier than the lobster guys. But I feel all these attacks against black people for these sorts of issues are inherently racist. It is actually making fun of black people for living trough a period of state terror, and not having the same ulture and social mores as whites. It reminds me of reading an article about Roma in Europe. Everyone believes the Roma steal, cheat, and are lazy. If they find out their hardworking new employee is Roma, then he is fired, providing the opportunity to call the Roma lazy. Or for us black people, pointing to illegitimate births without even acknowledging the context that we weren’t allowed to have partners, my Grandmother being the first generation in Louisiana to honestly know who her grandparents were.

            Many of thes


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