On May 2023, a Reddit user shared an image to r/WhitePeopleTwitter, which was purportedly a screengrab of a tweet in which right-wing pundit Ann Coulter referenced a NAACP travel warning issued for Florida:
As is often the case, some context was required to understand the post in its entirety.
The NAACP’s Florida Travel Warning
On May 20 2023, the NAACP published a press release, “NAACP Issues Travel Advisory in Florida.”
It began by explaining that the warning was issued as a “direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools”:
Today [on May 20 2023], the NAACP Board of Directors issued a formal travel advisory for the state of Florida. The travel advisory comes in direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools.
The formal travel notice states, “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”
“Let me be clear – failing to teach an accurate representation of the horrors and inequalities that Black Americans have faced and continue to face is a disservice to students and a dereliction of duty to all,” said NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson. “Under the leadership of Governor Desantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon. He should know that democracy will prevail because its defenders are prepared to stand up and fight. We’re not backing down, and we encourage our allies to join us in the battle for the soul of our nation.”
The travel advisory was initially proposed to the Board of Directors by NAACP’s Florida State Conference. NAACP’s collective consideration of this advisory is a result from unrelenting attacks on fundamental freedoms from the Governor and his legislative body.
‘ … Employees in Restaurant and Tourism Industry Brace for 0.00 % Drop in Tips’
Coulter’s purported tweet claimed, in an apparent attempt at humor, that Florida’s hospitality employees were bracing “for a 0.00% drop in tips.”
Coulter here was referencing a well-worn stereotype both within and outside the service industry, which holds that Black customers are less inclined to tip their servers. A 2008 item on Epicurious.com (“Tipping Stereotypes”) briefly explained the racist trope:
Arguably the most pervasive and most damaging tipping stereotype of all is that black people don’t tip well. The preconception is one of those ugly cultural phenomena that get trotted out every once in a while as a discussion point about contemporary racism, nervously joked about, and then allowed to continue quietly thriving until the next time it’s considered appropriate to talk about again.
Epicurious.com linked Entrepreneur.com, but the page was no longer available. An archived version of the linked February 2004 trade article — “‘Dining while black’: tipping as social artifact” — began with the following abstract, alluding to disparities in service to Black customers:
Recent studies [as of 2004] suggest that black American diners tend to tip less than white American diners. Rather than address tipping directly, this study uses in-depth interviews of white restaurant workers to frame the issue of how restaurant workers view and respond to customers of color. The present research indicates that white American restaurant workers actively participate in derogatory stereotyping of black American customers, engaging in the use of racial code words and derogatory ethnic labels, while discriminating–both overtly and covertly–in their service interactions with black customers. Among other things, servers attempt to negotiate with other white employees to avoid having black parties seated in their sections and actively try to trade off such “undesirable” parties. Servers’ logic regarding tipping is self-perpetuating in the sense that they avoid serving parties of black customers because they anticipate poor tips. These results suggest that evidence of racial tipping differences needs to be viewed cautiously in the service context in which they exist and that the industry should take special care to ensure that when servers serve black Americans, they should provide service that justifies a good tip.
In November 2020, The Conversation published an article by Wayne State University professor Zachary Brewster, which described his research about ethnic stereotypes and tipping, and described his findings:
When Black diners get poorer service from wait staff and bartenders than white customers, it’s more likely because of racial bias than the well-documented fact that they tip less, according to a new survey I recently published.
Servers who either held prejudices toward African Americans, worked in a restaurant where racist remarks were frequently heard or both were significantly more likely to predict that the table with Black customers would not only tip them less but also display uncivil, demanding and dishonest behaviors. As a result, these servers also reported that they would give worse service to the Black table relative to the white one.
We found no evidence of racially disparate treatment except when one of those two conditions was present: server prejudice or racist workplace words and behaviors.
In September 2014, Pacific Standard reported on research about race and service work, with which Brewster was also involved:
The disheartening findings: “Our results indicate that both white and black restaurant customers discriminate against black servers by tipping them less than their white co-workers.”
Furthermore, “to the degree that there are interracial differences in serving skills, black servers in this study are perceived to provide better service relative to that provided by their white co-workers,” the researchers report. “Black servers were rated more favorably than white servers across each of three unique indices measuring service skills.”
Thus, after their quality of work was taken into account, “the disparity between tips given to black and white servers was enhanced rather than attenuated.”
In short, Coulter leaned on a well-worn and misleading racist stereotype in what looked like an attempt to be relevant and funny.
Coulter’s NAACP Tweet
Screencaptures of the tweet attributed to Coulter circulated on platforms like Reddit, without a link to the tweet itself.
NAACP issues warning to African Americans to avoid visiting Florida; employees in restaurant and tourism industry brace for 0.00 % drop in tips.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 22, 2023
Screenshots of a May 22 2023 tweet by Ann Coulter circulated on social media. In the tweet, Coulter referenced the NAACP’s then-recent travel warning about the state of Florida, adding that the state’s hospitality industry “brace[d] for [a] 0.00% drop in tips.” The tweet was real; it was neither doctored to make Coulter look bad nor created to satirize her musings.