A fascinating video created by Splinter Video shines an important light on the racist history of tipping in America.
In the years following the Civil War, newly freed blacks flocked to major cities to find work. Many found their way into restaurants. Tipping was a convenient way to avoid actually paying black workers, whom white business owners resented having to pay in the first place. Thanks to the lobbying efforts of groups like the National Restaurant Association, the subminimum wage system persists today.
“A century later, the inherent racism of tipping persists. Nonwhite restaurant workers take home 56% less than their white peers. And there’s a new vulnerable demographic who’s suffering—women. According to Jayaraman, 66% of the almost 6 million tipped workers in America are women. Europe, where this whole thing began, has long moved past tipping to pay restaurant workers a full wage. So maybe it’s time for America to change its tipping culture too.”
The racist history of tipping is yet another reason those who work in the restaurant industry should not have to rely on tips—rather than a fair wage from their employers—to make ends meet. America should end the subminimum wage system once and for all. Tipping should be a bonus, not a base wage.
Interesting in joining our movement? Head over to onefairwage.com for more information.