White “Restaurant Culture” Flight 2010…

Again, I always feel bad when I post this kind of blog entry . But I woke to such interesting news.

As a disclaimer: This blog post sends all sorts of mixed messages.

My response to a blog entry for the person who writes at waitinginvegas.com. It seems like it’s addressing an “issue”, but it really isn’t. I just wanted to contact this person. My new favorite writer for 2010. Please write a novel or a screenplay. Please!!!

And my posting of the latest issue involving a black server is just to showcase how easy it is to get money. (Why won’t this fortuitous opportunity come my way?)

Here are some websites to check out:

http://www.waitinginvegas.com/

— This fine gentleman waits tables in Las Vegas. He is very entertaining and I will continue to look out for his posts.  Again, I hope he gets a movie deal!

http://www.emnnews.com/featured/no-black-waiters-people-of-color-or-foreign-accent-says-white-british-couple-who-reject-black-people-in-america-hotel/

— An article about a guy suing the Ritz-Carlton because a British family didn’t want to be pampered by any of the hotel’s black service staff.

All this led to me writing a lengthy note to the blogger at waitinginvegas.com So, I decided to post it here on my blog. Enjoy!!

How May I'ze Helpya, Sir?

[Original Post – 5/8/2010 – 10:27a.m.] <I posted this on, “That Little Black Kid”>

In defense of aspiring black waiters. I digress briefly… (This is in response to black waiters lack of visibility in American restaurant culture, or what I’ve not-so-cleverly labeled today as: “trendy restaurants”; from one of your past post, and hopefully what I’m saying is also in comparison with this post…)

Continuing; I’m a black waiter (cities I served in: New Orleans, Dallas, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles) and my theory of why we’re (blacks) not present and accounted for is because of the palette of white people.

What’s reported:

Wikipedia estimates that today 2.2 million Americans wait tables. This number, however, is inaccurate or at least I believe it to be so. It’s closer to 19 million based on an article I read years ago (4 yrs.). Of that number, under 1 million are African-American (this includes FOH & BOH employees; Yikes!). Let’s assume this number has increased since then. I’ll go 1.4 million.

Way too nice for me to work at...

These statistics were reported in a very interesting article in Dining Guide Magazine (may or may not be the correct name) back in 2006 which I read when I lived in Las Vegas after I relocated there from New Orleans, post-Katrina. (I was 1 of only 2 African-Americans on a staff of 130. So, until I arrived there was 1 of what you like to call “token black guys”. I ruined it for him.)

In this article–again it’s been years since I’ve read this–African-Americans who would like to wait tables expressed frustrations with the (1) hiring policies of high end establishments and (2) the aesthetics.

Broken down:

1) If a black person walks into a prominent Manhattan or Las Vegas steakhouse and doesn’t see any other African-Americans working there, he or she vacates; and if he or she decides to fill out an application/go through the interview process they feel in the back of their mind they won’t get the position–case in point for your outlook on the service staff at your restaurant, restaurants in general, and mine also. (5 African-Americans on a service staff of about 80, which is a lot for a downtown Los Angeles restaurant in general. Downtown L.A. is primarily Asian and Hispanic; plus white, obviously.) [Stroll the Sunset Strip and see if you can get that number in any of the establishments (5).]

2) The aesthetics of these places are overwhelming. $25 dollar stemware, Amazon wood flooring, 14 feet ceilings, crown molding, etc. A black person looking to have a part time job that pays for odd things (car insurance, cell phone) isn’t sure if he or she will fit in and if so will this place compromise his or her culture and lifestyle. Black people like any race of people want to have pride in who they are, collectively and individually. Cutting your locks, undoing your cornrows, or feeling insecure for speaking “improperly” (if they have an accent: Haitian or any out of the Caribbean, or use southern vernacular) hurts at the core of our being, especially knowing this country’s way of making people box themselves in and Americanize yourself. [You and I know at least on Korean with an English first name or nickname so that Americans can “pronounce” it].

Kesha, what does beurre blanc sauce mean to you...

*) Now as a side portion the article threw in our (African-American) history. The fact that pre-1960 there were black cooks, maids, servers and that as Blacks/African-Americans have “progressed”–whatever that means (that would be for a different argument altogether)–those numbers have dwindled to where they are today. Moreover, our parents/mentors/pastors have discouraged this generation of blacks from taking jobs in the service industry. They’d much rather us dunk a basketball in a ten foot high iron basket than dunk a Darjeeling tea bag in cup of hot water.

All reasonable right…

Again my theory: The white palette. I now toil in the entertainment industry which is supported by my work, still, in the service industry.

Same thing: no blacks, or hardly any to speak of. (Thanks, Denzel.)

The canvas of life white people have painted for contemporary (today) living doesn’t include the use or fair use of all colors (sometimes in black culture we get caught up and think it’s just about us. Asians, Native Americans and Hispanics have the same frustrations). Most whites are blind to this assessment and when I bring this point up around my white friends, it makes them uncomfortable. Oh, I’m on to something here. “COMFORTABLE”.

Business owner have opted to go for “comfortableness” rather than diversity. How can I make you (white people) comfortable and separate you from your dollars at the same time? [Again, I tell my homeboys this all the time. The 1990s decade was the last great decade for black programming. An abundance of shows were littered across network TV with all black casts. Today, it’s one black person on every show. It’s the proportionate amount of chocolate ice cream for today’s palette for white people.]

Anything else and it becomes ethnic food. (Thai, Jamaican, Soul food, Korean, etc.) And in keeping with #1: If more blacks (or any race for that matter) work, AND play in the same spot, the spot isn’t hallmarked for diversity, it becomes a spot where “a lot black people hang out” (or Asians, etc.). It’s funny because in business there’s this cliche that is supposed to be followed, “the only color that should matter is green”. Well, I believe there is such a thing as white flight in restaurant culture also.

And no one has gotten into the niche of taking solely black money. Hell, black business owners don’t just want black money! (We sort of freely give it away already, sparingly judging by all servers’ (black, white, brown) view of the one or two tables a night of upwardly and not-so-upwardly mobile African-Americans dining in high end establishments. (We’re dumping $182 billion into the marketplace so freely nowadays.)

<next paragraph I’m referring to blogger>

My guess is that you work in one of those “trendy restaurants”. I didn’t see Jerome’s Soul Food Shack in any casino I went into while there in Vegas. I believe that if there were an influx of black people the staff and patrons would slowly slide to the next spot. I’d pay to see an experiment like that take place.

Crazy right… In 2010 and at least on the west coast, blacks and whites won’t occupy the same restaurant together with comparable numbers for each side.

In summation, I watch black guy after black guy come into my restaurant and get turned away–the ones that don’t get overwhelmed by the decor at least. If getting jobs for blacks is a concern of yours, piggy-back them in off your name, or encourage your boss to bring about “diversity” in the work place…LOL

But seriously, there’s nothing you can do. My friend hates this idiom, but I love using it in cases like this. ‘It is what it is!’ Nice, right?

Thank God for the NFL. There open for business and overcrowded with blacks. They’re starting to turn them away, damn!

See you on Sunday!!!

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