Partying While Black

Louisville, Ky., the city where I lived prior to moving to Birmingham last year, may be the hometown of my heart but it’s far from perfect. One of the things that tarnishes the River City’s good name is the frequent accusation that owners of night clubs at Fourth Street Live, the city’s downtown entertainment district, are racist. Several black men say they’ve been prohibited from entering certain clubs due to dress code violations even though the white guy in front of them sporting ripped jeans and a hoodie was welcomed with open arms. A pal of mine who’s a DJ (and not black) once told me that when he was hired to play at one of the clubs the owner requested that he not play much hip-hop because he didn’t want it “getting too dark in here — if you know what I mean.” 

Louisville, however, is in no way the only city with stories like these. Jezebel recently reported on an incident in Boston:

A party for black Harvard and Yale alums at a Boston club this weekend was shut down just after 11pm. Why? The club owner was concerned that a long line of black people outside would make the club look bad.

A group of recent graduates had sold tickets in advance for a party at a new Boston club, Cure, to follow Saturday’s Harvard-Yale game. By 10:30pm, though, club management freaked out and claimed it had seen “local gang bangers” around, despite the strict guest-list policy implemented by organizers. At first they demanded that guests show student ID — not exactly practical given the fact that it was a party aimed at alums — and then eventually shut down the entire club.

What’s even sadder, I think, is that the only reason this story is getting attention is because these were Harvard and Yale alums. We should be just as outraged if this happened to a group of high school dropouts. 

One Jezebel commenter added that the prior occupant of that club space was shut down after a major shooting which was caused by known “gang bangers.” Therefore, the commenter argued, the new owners were simply “trying to protect a major investment,” ignoring the fact that this statement is implying that it’s okay to assume that black skin equals gang affiliation. But maybe I’m just overreacting. 


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