Ever since the COVID hysteria began to abate, it has become a matter of simple courtesy, as well as support for a beleaguered industry, to be a generous tipper in restaurants. Many restaurant workers were out of work for a considerable period, and the number of shuttered eateries in every city is grim testimony to the devastation that the hysteria wrought. Now Nikole Hannah-Jones, who brought us the 1619 Project, wants to add insult to all that injury: tipping, according to this tireless champion of equity, is racist now. Of course, pretty much everything, from Dr. Seuss to French fries, is racist these days, but Hannah-Jones’ rage at tipping is a new one.
It all started on Monday night when Hannah-Jones tweeted (and later deleted): “Tipping is a legacy of slavery and if it’s not optional then it shouldn’t be a tip but simply included in the bill. Have you ever stopped to think why we tip, like why tipping is a practice in the US and almost nowhere else?”
Well, no, actually, I haven’t. There are all sorts of customs and cultural habits that have their roots in long-forgotten beliefs and practices. But Hannah-Jones’ claim that “tipping is a legacy of slavery” strains credulity. Did slave owners tip their slaves?
After getting some pushback for her nonsense, Hannah-Jones hastened to assure the world that she was a big tipper: “Are y’all reading what I am writing or nah? I said I tip. I tip well. I tip almost always. But I object to the idea that I am obligated to tip no matter how I am treated. Nope. And you can’t get more offended at me than employers that pay less-than-minimum wage.” As the firestorm continued, she grew weary of the topic, concluding with: “I’ve said what I have to say about this. I have been utterly disrespected at restaurants. Ignored. Rudeness. Nope.”
But it wasn’t just because Hannah-Jones has unfortunately stumbled upon racist restaurants where she was “utterly disrespected” that she is against tipping. It is also because she is a Marxist. During the controversy her initial tipping tweet created, she asked Touré, who had rejected the idea that one should tip based on the quality of service: “What do you think is the purpose of tipping, Toure? Why does it exist?” Another Twitter user answered: “to transfer labor costs from the business to the consumer.” To that, Hannah-Jones replied: “Bingo.”
That was the closest she came to explain how tipping is part of the “legacy of slavery.” Apparently, her reasoning, if her race-baiting hard-Left propaganda and sloganeering can ever be called that, was that tipping was invented so that the owners of restaurants wouldn’t have to pay their employees a living wage; the customers would take care of that with their tips. But this argument founders on the fact that the customers of all businesses essentially pay the wages of the employees; they just don’t generally do so as directly as they do in a restaurant.
Perhaps Hannah-Jones meant that waiters and waitresses were not paid a living wage just as slaves weren’t paid a living wage. But if a slave owner ran a business, the customers didn’t come along and pay the slaves who worked in it.
It is, in other words, hard to escape the conclusion that Nikole Hannah-Jones’ claim about tipping makes no sense, has no basis in history, and is all part of her project to render everything about the United States of America a manifestation of racism, and hence to be rejected by all decent people. Hannah-Jones styles herself a historian, but her work actually has nothing to do with historiography, and everything to do with the Left’s project of trying to make Americans ashamed of their nation, culture, and heritage. The Founding Fathers were all white racist slave owners, you see, and there is nothing redeeming about them; their statues must be torn down and their names effaced, so as to make room for our new woke heroes — George Floyd and the rest.
In line with this, every last little thing about life as we have known it must be rejected, even something as trivial as tipping in restaurants, so that we are kept thoroughly off-balance and increasingly accustomed to the idea that our nation and culture are radically wrong, and must be thoroughgoingly replaced. That’s how the groundwork is laid for revolutions. That’s what Nikole Hannah-Jones is all about.