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Friday, October 18, 2019

Columns

Bizarre tip for waitress proves bigotry remains healthy


Last week, 18-year-old Sadie Elledge waited on a strange couple.

Neither the man nor woman would look her in the eye, they just nodded their heads. After Elledge rang up their two gyros, drinks and Greek salad, they signed off on their receipt and left.

It was only after her shift at Jess’s Lunch in Harrisonburg, Virginia that she realized her tip was worse than $0. The couple had written, “We only tip citizens,” instead of a number.

It’s hilarious that the couple are both horrible and ignorant: Elledge was born in the U.S., which makes her a citizen by birth.

Honestly, how did these people expect to validate their complaint? Did they demand to see her passport? No. Are two people really trying to start another birther movement rather than giving a young lady the tip, which I’m sure she deserved, after dealing with them?

Do we really want to relive what started just before 2010 and demand everyone show us their long-form birth certificate? It was ridiculous to doubt someone’s citizenship then. It’s a million times as ridiculous now.

The Elledges are a biracial family of white, Mexican and Honduran descent. There are many of us, especially in Houston, who can relate to growing up balancing two or more cultures.

There’s nothing wrong with that, this is the new normal in the U.S. The notion of a “typical” American family is a relic — we are all different and we are all perfect in our own ways.

Fortunately, there are pleasant outcomes to this story. You can see one in her (white) grandfather condemning the actions of a woman — who had an accent herself — victimizing his granddaughter. There’s also the fury in her boss’ voice, who is an immigrant, when she described the couple as “cowards” and banned them from her restaurant.

Topping them all off, however, is the eloquent note from various members of the community commending her on her service, making up for the tip she never got and then some.

I am a Latina and I am also a citizen. Like Sadie, and many other people around the country, I have also been a server. But I don’t think I would’ve handled this situation so graciously.

In the fall of 2015, around 27 percent of UH students were Latino or of Hispanic origin. Sadie could have been you or me, or anyone with brown hair or brown eyes who found themselves in the wrong people at the wrong time.

I wish I could say it’s easy to forget that racism is alive and well in this country. We see it every day on the news, in the streets and even on campus.

It’s up to us to drown out the cries of the ignorant and contribute to making our society open, inclusive, and safe for all.

Opinion columnist Marialuisa Rincon is a journalism junior and can be reached at [email protected]

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