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Why don’t Black people tip? This lingering stereotype has withstood the test of time, but it’s just not true. I’m sure we all know a Black person who doesn’t tip well, but we also have Black acquaintances who do. Stereotypes have the power to shape perceptions and perpetuate racial biases, which only reinforce discrimination and continue the cycle of assumptions that generalizes an entire race of people. If you are striving for a society without racism and bias, start with understanding the stereotypes that keep us trapped in our prejudices. In this piece, NewsOne breaks down the harmful and annoying stereotype that Black people don’t tip as we try to understand its impact and debunk its credibility. 

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To understand the origins of this nasty stereotype, you must first understand America’s history of tipping. Tipping, like so many other things in America, is a relic of slavery. Tipping first originated in Europe and was adopted by some American travelers. After the Civil War, the practice spread as U.S. employers looked for creative ways not to pay former Black slaves. Tipping was also used as a way to perpetuate class structure and inferiority among Blacks. 

From Politico:

A journalist quoted in Kerry Segrave’s 2009 book, Tipping: An American Social History of Gratuities, wrote in 1902 that he was embarrassed to offer a tip to a white man. “Negroes take tips, of course; one expects that of them—it is a token of their inferiority,” he wrote. “Tips go with servility, and no man who is a voter in this country is in the least justified in being in service.”

In the early 1900s, some states tried to ban tipping due to its racist origins, but failed due to pushback from the restaurant industry and tipping slowly became normal practice in the hospitality sector.

What’s one way to hide the racist past of the concept of tipping? Make Black people the scapegoats. 

Tipping has also always been a way to divide folks by social economic status. Labeling Black folks as bad tippers was an easy way to stigmatize them. Since Black people don’t tip well they must be poor. Accompany this idea with decades of discrimination and you have a recipe for entire generations of Black people buying into this nonsense. 

Now for the statistics (eye-roll).

According to a survey cited by the Washington Post, of about 1,000 restaurant servers found that 70% thought black diners/patrons were “very bad” or “below average” tippers, meanwhile, those same people surveyed believed that 98% of white diners were at least “average” tippers.

Stats like these, if taken for face value, can be super convincing especially when they come from such a reputable source, but they are dangerous without the proper context. On average, Black people do not receive the same level or quality of service. If Black people aren’t getting good service then why should they go above and beyond when it comes to tipping? Also, stats like these don’t take into account the socioeconomic status of Black customers. For Blacks living at or above the poverty line, considerable tips aren’t even something they can afford. 

I admit, this stereotype has even played a part in how I interact with servers while I am at restaurants. There is always a voice in my head telling me don’t seem too cheap because I know what they think about Black people. Instead of measuring my tip based on service, I am subconsciously being guided by the idea I may be judged by a white server who brings me my meal. Instead of trying to measure how people tip based on race, how bout we use more common-sense logic? Tipping is a conversation for the social hierarchy of America, not a way to scapegoat Black people.

Here are some intelligent Black men discussing tipping.


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Breaking Down The Stereotype: Black People And Tipping  was originally published on