Monday, August 23, 2010

Domino's Pizza delivered with racial attack on Carla Robinson

Stacks of red and blue Domino's Pizza boxes. On the side of these boxes are the words "Take A Fresh Look". From Wikipedia.
Trigger warning for description of race-based harrassment.

Ordering a pizza should be a pretty uncomplicated and stress-free occasion. That's the point of delivery pizza: not having to cook, having it hot and ready for you when you want it. And most consumers can expect that their relatively low-maintenance meals will be free from the stress and degradation of harassment on the basis of race.

But for Carla Robinson, that was apparently too much too ask. On Friday, she ordered two large pizzas for delivery from her local Domino's in Apex, NC. After the driver left, her ten-year-old niece brought the receipt to her attention. The receipt read "N*GGERS DON'T TIP".

On its own, this would be reprehensible and disgusting, particularly considering that a young child was exposed to such vile and hateful language. But what happened to Robinson after the initial attack compounded the atrocity.

Robinson promptly reported this action to the manager, who was responsible enough to fire the culpable employee. Instead of accepting fault for their actions and moving on, the former employees continued their campaign of hatred by calling Robinson to further demean and intimidate her:
“They were saying basically the same stuff that was on the receipt. They were saying 'N-this, you got me fired, you did this, you did that,' just being real ugly to me, just being real mean,” Robinson said. “I’m thinking it is 2010, it's never good to do that. You can't do stuff like that anymore.”
Domino's is not exactly the organization to blame here; this is the act of one racist individual and it seems that the organization responded promptly and appropriately, accepting fault and offering an apology for their employee's actions. But though this is the act of one lone individual projecting their racism rather than systematic racism affecting millions, it is still very indicative of the racism that white America thrives on.

When social justice writers talk about how our kyriarchal society is far from post-racial, we often point to less obvious manifestations of white people continuing to get the edge over people of color: through housing policies, through standardized tests, through drug law. Racism is often presented as below the surface for many well-meaning white people, something we just don't think about because of our privilege, something we have to look hard to see in our actions and in the actions of others.

But this is very far from reality, both in acts unconscious and conscious. Individual acts of terrorism through blatant racism, as Robinson experienced, are a clear indication of the devaluation of non-white people in the US. People of color do not only experience institutional and systematic racism: they experience targeted attacks and harassment based specifically on their race. Robinson's supposition that in 2010, people will have the good sense to not attack others based on their race is not unreasonable, but sadly, it is too optimistic.

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Trigger warning for comments.

14 comments:

  1. Black people really do need to learn to tip though, otherwise it is all but impossible for a person (driver/waiter) to learn a living wage in the community.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm publishing your disgustingly racist and derailing comment, Tara, because it's indicative of many responses I saw while I was researching this piece.

    Black people not tipping is a stereotype, first of all. Assumptions and generalizations based on blatant stereotypes are racist, and not acceptable.

    Second of all, whether or not Robinson or other black people tip is not. the. point. This is about Robinson and her 10-year-old niece being assaulted with a vile slur, and you focus on whether or not they and other black people? That's classic victim blaming, and it's reprehensibly racist. You're identifying and agreeing with the person who used a vile and racist slur to get their message across.

    You know, delivery people not making enough money is a legitimate concern. It's a form of systematic classism. But in a post where that message is delivered using one of the very worst words in our language is not the place to bring it up. It's an act of privilege to focus off the racist act at hand to focus concern on the racist person who committed it, and it's unacceptable.

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  3. *they and other black people tip or not?

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  4. ...what RMJ said. I know a lot of people who have worked as servers and/or drivers (drivers actually often make more than servers if we're talking equal restaurants), and so I have a lot of sympathy for people and how little they make when they don't get tipped, but these guys don't get any sympathy from me.

    All they've managed to do by being giant bigots is make me side with someone who I would usually be extremely angry at for not tipping. Now they get my sympathy for having to deal with crazy douchebags who insist on harassing them after the incident. Whoops. Driver's bad.

    Not to mention that there are people who tip and people who don't tip pretty much across the board.

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  5. Tara:
    Tipping is done as a courtesy for good service if the people paying for the product are in a financial situation where they can afford to tip. It is not required, it is socially considered a courtesy. And it is dependent on the situations in the lives of the people the service is being provided to. There are many reasons why a person may not tip, and assuming that race is a factor is, well, pretty damned racist.

    Faye: If you could be so kind as to not use an ableist slur against the people harassing others for not tipping. It doesn't help, it just changes the discrimination portrayed from one to another. Thank you.

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  6. I'm white and I almost never tip, so bang goes that stereotype. (I don't have the money to leave substantial tips.)

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  7. Tara -
    As someone who's worked as a busser at a few different restaurants in NY and PA, I can tell you that not tipping is something everyone does. In PA when I worked at a "fine dining" Italian restaurant there were much less black customers than white, and yet every time a black customer came in I would have to hear a exasperated sigh from the servers; they believed in the stereotype. As a test, I started comparing tips from both white and black customers, and you know what? Even taking for account that there were many more white customers, the amount of tipping was equal.

    And staticnonsense -
    If people can't afford to tip even a little bit, then they should either order a little less food so they can, or not dine out. Servers get paid very little, we're talking 2-3 dollars an hour. They make MOST of their money off of tips, and a lot of servers I know are struggling to pay their bills because of that attitude.

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  8. Y'all, the conversation is getting more than a little derailed. I'm not knowledgeable enough to effectively navigate or moderate conversations about tipping, and that's not the focus on this piece. This is about racism and harassment, not whether or not and how much people should tip.

    I think we've effectively deconstructed the problems with Tara's comment, so let's move back to the original post, okay?

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  9. Racist people are always looking for a stereotype to exploit. They are unhappy and want somewhere to project this. I'm glad they got fired and I hope this doesn't reflect negatively on Dominos.

    I worked for Dominos for 2 years and I made good money in tips. What people fail to realize is that when you work as a server or driver it's an average per customer. Some ppl tip heavy and some ppl don't tip at all. It has nothing to do with race and it's all part of the job.

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  10. What on earth made those employees think that racist behavior would be tolerated? Did they really think this wouldn't get them fired? The ex-Dominoes employees have earned a massive FAIL for being both racist and stupid.

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  11. I tend to tip VERY well, mostly to avoid dealing with the kind of garbage spewed in this article. That said, TIPS is an acronym and was for the most part something to do PRIOR to the service, not afterwards. So actually, the whole way the tip system is executed in the US is ass backwards anyway. Nevertheless, I have very little to say on the subject because, well there are no words to describe something that in my world barely registers as blog worthy, not because it's rare, but because it's just a daily reality of being a POC.

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  12. I agree that the garbage in this article is...well, garbage, and that it's a daily reality.

    I don't, however, think that makes it any less news-worthy. Do we never report on murders because they happen more frequently than the news can keep up with them? Yeah, it'd be nice to be optimistic and unjaded, but the problem is, it is then left to the people who have this as a daily reality to just deal with, and the people who don't to ignore. People whose reality doesn't include this should HAVE to face the facts that it does exist, or you get ridiculous statements like "racism doesn't exist anymore" and other bullshit alongside the kinds of comments such as at the beginning of this thread or in the article.

    Side note: Respectfully, "tips" isn't, despite popular opinion, an acronym for To Insure Prompt Service: Snopes checks it out.

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  13. I drove cab during college, and found that the myth of blacks not tipping caused drivers to treat them in ways that caused the blacks not to tip. I treated everyone the same, as much as possible, and was tipped quite well by all races.

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  14. RMJ is as honest a blogger as Politico or MSNBC for the 'mainstream' media left-wing nuts.

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