Here's Why There's a Debate About a Tip for a Black Waitress From Three White Trump Supporters

January 26th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

A black waitress in Washington, D.C. received an incredible tip from three white supporters of President Donald Trump, but the gesture started a debate about the nature of racism.

Jason White told The Washington Post that he and his two friends went to the restaurant Busboys and Poets the Monday after Inauguration, and they intentionally avoided wearing their "Make America Great Again" hats, as the restaurant's name references iconic black poet Langston Hughes, and is covered in black American art.

At the end of their meal, White and his friends left black waitress Rosalynd Harris a $450 tip with a message.

“We may come from different cultures and may disagree on certain issues, but if everyone would share their smile and kindness like your beautiful smile, our country will come together as one people,” read the message on the receipt. “Not race. Not gender. Just American. God Bless!”

Busboys and Poets shared the receipt on their Twitter account, calling it a "lovely act of kindness."

Harris said that the gesture changed her outlook on Trump supporters.

“You automatically assume if someone supports Trump that they have ideas about you,” she said to the Post, “but [the customer was] more embracing than even some of my more liberal friends, and there was a real authenticity in our exchange.”

People on social media also found the gesture heartwarming.

However, the story also received strong backlash.

Some commenters on The Root's Facebook post about the story stated that a kind gesture to an individual black person does not erase support for policies that could harm minorities and low income people.

Discussion about $450 tip.

Debate about $450 tip.

Debate about $450 tip.

Debate about $450 tip.

ATTN: talked to University of Southern California law professor Jody Armour who agreed with the commenters. Armour believes that gestures like this are superficial.

"This story touches a nerve, and that is that white America craves absolution," Armour, the author or "Negrophobia and Racism: the Hidden Cost of Being Black in America," believes. "They crave some kind of redemption or salvation in terms of any responsibility they have for the oppression of black people."

Armour said that a large tip for one black woman does not erase policy that could harm black people. He pointed to Trump's pick for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Steve Bannon the chief strategist and senior counselor to Trump.

Jeff Sessions

Sessions' nomination was opposed by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and members of the Congressional Black Caucus for his record with civil rights issues. Bannon has a "long history of bigotry" and promotes "white nationalist tropes," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center

John Lewis

"You can give her all the tips you want, but if you're supporting white nationalists and people who are opponents of civil rights, than your expression of care and concern can ring hollow," said Armour. "It can seem like you're offering some kind of cheap absolution for the responsibility you bear in an increasingly oppressive system by saying, 'Well i have no responsibility for that as long as I am good in my interactions with black people,' but it's not just about your personal interactions."

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