1619 Project founder and New York Times Magazine writer Nikole Hannah-Jones made a startling connection Monday between slavery and restaurant dining. According to the controversial author and historian, “tipping is a legacy of slavery” and is practiced “almost nowhere else” in the world.
Hannah-Jones declared that she does, in fact, tip, despite its “origins” in slavery and despite sometimes being “disrespected in restaurants.”
The original tweet was deleted, but not before political and economic historian Phil Magness shredded its assertions with a barrage of simple and verifiable facts. Facts such as a guide for travelers tipping in Europe published in the 1730s, a reference to giving a gratuity in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” and even the modern-day Good Housekeeping guide for tipping in other countries.
The roots of giving gratuities in the U.S. go back to wealthy American travelers who brought the practice home from Europe decades before the Civil War, where it developed from Middle Ages practices.
The CRT guru did not take issue with any of Magness’ historical arguments, but rather attacked him for being “obsessed” with her and saying he cannot “cancel” or “discredit” her with his replies.
Of course, it must be noted that this is the same Nikole Hannah-Jones who less than a month ago asserted that Europe is not a continent. And, not coincidentally, the same person who feels that concern over Ukraine’s struggle against Russian invaders is a “dog whistle”–codespeak for substitute words for racist statements.
And as the apostle of Critical Race Theory’s indictment of the United States as being founded for the purpose of slavery and white supremacy, Hannah-Jones is well acquainted with shaky history lessons. The condemnation of her rewrite of the nation’s past is loudest from scholars who see her demagoguery and baseless tropes for what they are.
Spouting erroneous history in the internet age is hardly rare, and the assertion that tipping is a legacy of slavery is silly and rather harmless. What is not silly and is far from harmless, however, is giving a pseudo-historian the credibility to spread the dangerous misinformation of CRT to American youth by way of our public schools.
That’s a tipping point that should be stopped.