New Study Claims 'Tableside Racism' at Restaurants

Staff Writer
Researchers debate whether African-Americans face hostility from servers
A new study shows servers treat African-American customers differently.
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A new study shows servers treat African-American customers differently.

While race relations remain a topic of discussion in America, dining out hasn't been the focus — until now. New research claims that African-Americans face more subtle "tableside racism" than Caucasian diners.

The study, published in the Journal of Black Studies, surveyed more than 200 servers in North Carolina. Researchers asked whether they treated African-American customers differently than others. Nearly two-fifths of those surveyed said they did; plus, 90 percent of the servers said they overheard or took part in racially charged conversations while at work. 

The servers were also asked to rate how much customers would tip — and behave — based on race. All groups reported they thought black families and couples would tip less than their white counterparts, and therefore behave worse.

Therefore, the more African-Americans dine out, the more likely they will feel the effects discrimination, the study says. In it, the authors write that African-American customers are  "almost guaranteed to experience discrimination at some point over the course of a month, not to mention over the course of a year."

It's another side of how racial profiling affects everyday life, said study author Sarah Rusche of North Carolina State University. She said to the Daily Mail, "'Tableside racism' is yet another example in which African-Americans are stereotyped and subsequently treated poorly in everyday situations... Race continues to be a significant barrier to equal treatment in restaurants and other areas of social life."

 

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