Waitressing While Black – Shannon in Kansas City

I have had several customer service jobs in my life.  My career has mostly consisted of working in retail and I have had restaurant jobs as well.  I have learned a lot about the human race while working as a public servant.  Some of it is good.  Some is just matter of fact.  Much of what I’ve learned is disappointing.

I am a Black woman and I’ve noticed that some customers treat me differently than my non Black counterparts.  I have had retail sales jobs where I greeted a customer and asked them if I can help them find anything.  They would coldly tell me that they were just looking and barely make eye contact.  A non Black store employee would approach them a minute later and the customer’s entire demeanor would change and they gladly let the non Black store associate assist them.  I have witnessed this scenario time and time again.

The world has a coldness and condescending attitude towards Blacks.  I have often felt that a lot of non Black people have a hard time interacting with Black people without trying to correct or dominate them in some way.  A lot of non Black people feel like it is their right to dominate any interaction with a Black person.  Sometimes they try to dominate through subtle hints which express disdain for the Black party and sometimes they are more aggressive.

I currently work as a server at a chain restaurant that is popular across the U.S.  I had a string of customers over the weekend that were very course and rude over the weekend.  Now I’m sure you’re saying all servers have dealt with rude customers and you would be right.  But I’ve been Black a long enough to know when I’m dealing with the passive aggressive “You ain’t shit nigger” type of rudeness which is pervasive throughout America.

These particular customers had harshness in their eyes and were very coarse with their words.  If I said something to clarify their order they would snap back in a snotty way in order to imply that I was stupid.  Some of them avoided eye contact all together when speaking and talked down into their plates.  They were very cold, distant, dismissive and rude.  This type of behavior is common in Missouri.  I’ve never thought that people here are very nice.

People love to find and excuse for racist behavior so I want to say that these particular customers had nasty attitudes as soon as I approached their table so I know it was nothing I did.  It was the way I looked that made them so hateful.  Some may tell me to just suck it up sister.  Believe me I have.  Sucking it up and toughing it out gets tiring.  So I’m writing about my experiences as a creative outlet and to let my voice be heard among the handful of people that read this blog. (Thank you)

I want to encourage any other Black public servants out there to keep your head up and be professional.  It’s not your problem my friend it’s theirs.  Keep working hard.  Don’t let the prejudice and hatred on someone else’s heart affect you in anyway.  Like Beyoncé said “Always be gracious your best revenge is your paper”.

A Bit About Me

First of all I want to thank everyone that glances at my blog.  I really appreciate your time and your support is very encouraging.  I have been a writer practically all of my life.   I love words and stories.

I started writing in my first diary when I was in the third grade.  I have continuously been writing in journals since I was about thirteen.  I’ve done a little freelance writing work but other than that limited experience and my academic career my writing has never had an audience.

Thank you all for being that audience.  I hope some of my thoughts and experiences that I write about will entertain and or encourage you.  I hope that you can learn something from my perspective on the world we live in.