After polling servers in 18 North Carolina restaurants, researchers found that a shocking 38.5% discriminated against black customers.
Waiters admitted that they often gave them poorer service, based on their expectations that black diners would be poor tippers, demanding and rude.
Sarah Rusche, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at North Carolina State, called it a situation of “dining while black.”
“‘Tableside racism’ is yet another example in which African-Americans are stereotyped and subsequently treated poorly in everyday situations,” said Rusche. “Race continues to be a significant barrier to equal treatment in restaurants and other areas of social life.”
The survey, which was published in the Journal of Black Studies, also found that 52.8% of servers reported seeing other servers discriminate against African-American customers.
The research uncovered how racist chatter often permeates the workplace.
The study mentioned that Denny’s employees were found to have racist attitudes toward its customers, going so far as to refer to a sudden influx of black patrons as a “blackout.”
Games of “pass the black table” are often played, according to the study.
Yet, only 10.5% reported never engaging in or observing racialized discourse.
Black diners reported having to be asked to wait unreasonable amounts of time for a table and even to be refused service.
Some diners reported that they were mistaken for valet parkers, coat checks and bathroom attendants.
Of the servers polled, approximately 86% were white. While Rusche admits her study represented a small sample, she believes it’s an accurate representation of the restaurant community in North Carolina and the U.S. in general.
In fact, Sarah Rusche admitted that these numbers may even be low.
“People tend to underplay their racist feelings because it’s socially unacceptable,” said Rusche. “On a national level, these racist preconceived notions and poor treatment may actually be more prevalent.”