We’d like to believe that when we go into a restaurant, the waitstaff will treat everyone at the table equally (which may be a good or bad thing, depending on the server), but a new survey claims that more than one-third of servers admit to providing inferior service to African-American customers, and more than half say they’ve seen other servers treating customers poorly based on race.
The study surveyed 200 restaurant servers — 86% of them identified as white — at 18 restaurant chains in North Carolina.
From the statement released by NC State:
Survey results showed that 38.5 percent of servers reported that customers’ race informed their level of service at least some of the time, often resulting in providing inferior service to African-American customers. Findings show that many servers perceive African-American customers to be impolite and/or poor tippers, suggesting that black patrons, in particular, are likely targets of servers’ self-professed discriminatory actions.
The survey also found that 52.8 percent of servers reported seeing other servers discriminate against African-American customers by giving them poor service at least some of the time. Findings also show that restaurant servers share anti-black perceptions through racist workplace discourse, indicating a considerable amount of talk about the race of their patrons. Only 10.5 percent reported never engaging in or observing racialized discourse.
“Many people believe that race is no longer a significant issue in the United States,” says the paper’s co-author. “But the fact that a third of servers admit to varying their quality of service based on customers’ race, often giving African-Americans inferior service, shows that race continues to be an issue in our society.”