Recently, I came across a post on Racialicious by Lisa Wade which took a look at the not so subtle ways bars, clubs, and other establishments discriminate against some of it’s potential patrons. By implementing dress codes that target specific groups (i.e. minorities), and not strictly adhering to them, are these establishments actually practicing an acceptable form of racism?
Wade recounts her days in her college at the University of Wisconsin and how a local bar, ironically named Brothers, did everything legally possible to keep the brothas out. Their dress code, which prohibited backward caps, sleeveless tees, skullcaps, sports jerseys, athletic wear, and bad attitudes, was not always followed. She and others observed White university students being allowed into the bar despite wearing many of the prohibited items listed, while Blacks and other minorities were kept out.
This scene is nothing new. I’ve seen it replayed many times over with some of my male friends. There is one particular establishment in Los Angeles that many of my friends refuse to frequent simply because they have been turned away in the past. Despite being dressed similarly to other (White) patrons allowed in before AND after, they were turned away because they did not allegedly meet the dress code.
On one hand I sympathize with businesses. As someone who grew up in Los Angeles in the ‘80s, when everything you wore spoke volumes about your possible gang affiliations or not, I get it. Bar and club owners want their customers to have fun and be safe. But if you’re going to have a policy, it shouldn’t just apply to those you think are trouble, it should be standard across the board.