Most people would like to believe that racial discrimination is becoming increasingly rare and unacceptable in mainstream society.
But a new study suggests that African-Americans still face subtle prejudice in at least one area of life – dining out.
A survey of waiters in North Carolina revealed that nearly two-fifths admitted to treating customers differently depending on their race.
And as many as 90 per cent said they had participated in or overheard racially charged conversations among their co-workers.
‘Many people believe that race is no longer a significant issue in the United States,’ says Sarah Rusche, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the study.
‘But the fact that a third of servers admit to varying their quality of service based on customers’ race, often giving African-Americans inferior service, shows that race continues to be an issue in our society.’
The article, which is published in the Journal of Black Studies, reported the results of a survey of 200 servers at 18 different restaurants in the state.
Many of the waiters questioned said they perceived African-Americans to be less polite than others, while some added that they thought black diners tipped less generously.
These beliefs led 38.5 per cent of the waiters – a large majority of whom were white – to admit that they adjusted the quality of their service based on the race of their customers.
And 52.8 per cent of those surveyed said they had seen their colleagues discriminate against African-Americans.