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.

Have you ever had a problem with an establishment’s dress code? How did you handle it? Sound off! 



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  • JoeClyde

    Black women usually aren’t affected by these blatantly racist dress code policies. But in some instances such as the 230th Fifth 500mil lawsuit they are.

    I have seen this occur, and this has happened to me as well. They are not rejecting “thugs”. They are rejecting Black/Hispanic guys that are following the dress codes. Simply because they are a minority. They will look you up and down. To find any excuse possible to keep you out. But a white guy dressed like the Wigger of the Year winner 2011. He is able to walk straight in.

    Blacks generally need to stop supporting these venues. We need to support positive venues and stop placing value in white ones. Obviously they don’t place any value besides a negative one in you.

  • Lazarus666

    I dont have a problem with most of the dress code stuff. Like no T-shirts with advertising, just because, or no hats at a roller skating rink where it might fly off and present a hazard to other skaters. But there is some very subtle racism that goes on, that gets hidden in the “no athletic wear”, or all mens shirts must have sleeves. If you ask “why”, maybe they will say “thats just the way it is.” But if you seriously question it, you might eventually be told that most women shave thier armpits, whereas most men dont. Therefore men must wear sleeves for “hygeine” reasons, which would probably be valid for the chefs and waitstaff, etc – who are just as likely these days to be wearing latex gloves (the cooks in some places anyway) and a disposable cap.

    Of course if you are Native American, or some Asians for that matter – you might not have any body hair at all. So this really shouldn’t be made an issue. But it is. And there it gets tricky. Lots of bi-racial black poeple dont look black at all – at least from the point of view of the color of their skin. So “blackness” is just as much determined by curly hair, or the width of one’s nose, etc.

    I don’t know what the experience is of others, because everyone is different, and some people have other issues, like people of Islamic faith (or other), who may be required to wear some type of head dress when in public. What do the “no hats” resturaunt owners say about that?

    Alright, so I’m part Native American – and for whatever its worth, I have very little body hair, and also for practical purposes – I dont sweat. Which means like many Asians, I dont have to buy deodorant – because quite simply put – I dont need it. Then again, since my father had blonde hair, my hair is brown, unlike my mother who had black hair. It gets stranger – because I can easilly get a tan to where I dont look “white”, nope it is VERY easy for me to tan to where I am nearly as dark as many of the people of color that I see these days. Without the fake spray on stuff, or whatever.

    So what this comes down to is the “all mens shirts must have a collar and sleeves” rule is actually a white mans rule, which the enforcement of effectively forced me to “hide my race.”

    Now whatever that means, I grew up in a major city, and have few Native acquaintances. So this does become signifcant, if I say – would like to go to a night club or whatever that caters to singles – it woud be nice to be able to mingle with people who might actually find me attractive the way that nature made me, and not have some unpleasant surprise by the third date when a girl realizes that “oops she thought I was just another white guy with a tan”, or that I was just kidding around when I said I was part Native, and that she didn’t know what that mean’t. Oh well – it has actually happened, and thus I am still single.

  • Tiffany

    There was a bar in the town where I went to college that had a dress code almost word for word like the one in the picture, there was a gang problem in the area. I always saw them enforce it on everyone, white or black. There was on time me and a few friends went there to see a band and a few of us, myself included, had bandannas on from working in the studio all day. We were asked to remove the bandannas or leave, all of us are white as white gets.

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