North Carolina State University Study Finds Racism in the Level of Restaurant Service

A study by researchers at North Carolina State University in Raleigh finds that more than one third of all servers in restaurants discriminate against African American customers. The researchers conducted surveys of servers at 18 full-service chain restaurants. About 86 percent of those surveyed were White.

The results showed that 38.5 percent of all servers admitted to providing a lower level of service to African American customers at least some of the time. And this figure does not include those servers who did not admit to providing a lower level of service to Black customers. More than half of the respondents said they saw other servers discriminate against African American customers. Survey respondents mentioned that many servers believed African American customers were impolite, were too demanding, or were poor tippers.

The paper was co-authored by Sarah Rusche, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at North Carolina State University and Zachary Brewster, an assistant professor of sociology at Wayne State University who earned his Ph.D. at North Carolina State University in 2009. Rusche stated, “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.”

The research was published in the May 2012 issue of the Journal of Black Studies.

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