as a bartender i am conflicted about the "black people don't tip" debate for a variety of reasons, and watching the debates (and pstall vs GS mudslinging) has made things even more complex for me.
of course the "black people don't tip" misnomer has been deconstructed long ago (and nearly roundly ignored) by my presentation of the simple fact that socio-economic factors are at play. it's not that black people don't tip, it's that poor people don't tip, and a black person is statistically more likely to fit into those lower socio-economic brackets. and then you have the culture of poverty at play, which is essentially a sociological term coined to describe the passing of various societal traits based in and reflecting poverty (such as not tipping) that is passed on in spite of an individual's eventual accumulation of wealth (which is why you often hear of rich athletes who come from poor families tipping poorly.)
i've used my time at the bar to analyze these things pretty heavily. there have been plenty of times where i've gotten stiffed by black people, but i've gotten stiffed by enough white people and hispanic people and asian people to realize that the issue is far more nuanced than people want to admit. there's just a lot of varying factors conflicting and most of them transcend race. it just happens to be that skin color is the most instantly noticeable thing about a person and therefore it's the lazy (read: easy) correlation to make, regardless of accuracy.
The excuse of being poor and not tipping is a bad one. No matter how broke I am I'm going to factor in a tip with whatever money I have. If I only have $30 to my name I'm not going into a restaurant and ordering enough food so my total ends up being $29.98. I'll make sure my total is $25 or less so I have enough left over to tip. If I only have $25? Then I'll order $20 or less, not complicated stuff here. No matter how much money you have you can factor in a tip ahead of time, 15% is not ground breaking.
And as I mentioned earlier, that wasn't my experience anyway. I found that economic situation did play a factor, although not nearly as much as race. As a delivery driver you got a very clear picture of someone's economic situation.
I would see their neighborhood, their house, the general area, the car in their driveway, the inside of their place when they answered the door, the normal everyday clothes they wore. And I delivered to some absolutely horrible areas I would never want to live in, house falling apart, paint peeling, 20 year old rustbucket of a car in the driveway, person answers the door in ripped old stained clothes,
And if they were non-black I'd still get tipped 10-15% more often than not. Even latinos, which on average were the poorest I delivered to, still tipped. Not as high as the middle or upper income areas but every single latino I ever delivered to was in a lower income area and I never once got completely stiffed.
And there were numerous blacks I delivered to in upper income areas and you generally still got tipped poorly in those instances. I didn't get stiffed as often as blacks in low income areas but I'd get like $40-$50 orders and then a $1-$2 tip.
My experiences broke down like this
black in low income area: 80% nothing or whatever change was left over. Maybe if you were "lucky" you'd get a dollar or two but very VERY rare to get an actual good tip.
black in higher income area: stiffing dropped here to "only" 40-50%, but as I mentioned the tips I would get would not be very good, most times just $1-$2. Still it would be rare to get a good tip, although not quite as rare as the low income blacks.
non-black in low income area: generally 10-15% and there wasn't much variance here. Getting 20% or more, or getting completely stiffed both were pretty rare.
non-black in higher income area: 15-20% generally, occasionally you would get someone that would give you a big over-tip, and then there was probably 20% of people or so that would give you only 10%. I probably did thousands of deliveries while doing that job and I never, and I mean never, got stiffed in these situations.
BTW my service was the exact same to everyone. Even if somehow I could tell that a person was planning to stiff me it was still in my best interest to get there and back to the store as fast as possible so I could take the next delivery. Faster drive times = more deliveries = more money (at least in theory). Intentionally taking long on a delivery because I thought they might stiff me would just be screwing myself over. As far as politeness and so forth it really wasn't that hard to be nice and friendly for 15-30 seconds at a time. So honestly I don't buy the whole "black people tip bad because they get bad service" excuse either.