Remember the Red Lobster waitress who was left a racist comment on a receipt instead of a tip? Toni Christina Jenkins was suspended from her job for a few days after she posted the note online. Well there's no price for dignity and respect, but one outraged person wanted to show it's worth something. Matthew Hanson, founder of AddictingInfo.com, started an online fundraiser called Tips for Toni and raised $10,749. He says, "It was about sending a message to racists that Americans aren't going to tolerate that. We raised $10,000 within seventy-two hours. It was really amazing." It is amazing -- wait until you hear how Toni responded.
Toni didn't even know about the fundraiser, so it was a complete, utter surprise to her. She says she screamed aloud when she got the check. “I was just so thankful. I felt so blessed and so honored that so many people came together on my behalf to give this to me.”
Its an incredibly kind gesture for Toni that she whole-heartedly appreciates. But I think this fundraiser is also an affirmation that even though racism is alive and well in America, so is decency and compassion. Toni gets to spend that $10,000, but we all benefit from this fundraiser. It's a beautiful symbol for how strongly many people feel about combating racism.
On the surface, it seems odd that race and politics get played out on the restaurant scene so often. It seems like eating out should have nothing to do with social politics. But when you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Restaurants are where we gather together to share meals in public. And meal-sharing is an important ritual. What better place for us to play out our values? It's disappointing that some people lack values, but I believe these people are in the minority, and most of us believe in treating each other as equals.
Are you surprised that a fundraiser would bring in so much money for a waitress?
Image via NBC