Mason’s maundered musings: Hiding behind dress code


Mason Schweizer, Columnist

It is a shame that in 2016 I am writing a second column in a month on passive-aggressive racism (especially when this is the perfect time for a March Madness column).

But after what I witnessed in downtown Chicago last Friday night, I felt the need to publically expose a few places of business, however unlikely it may be that the people who should be reading this ever will see it.

Friday evening, protesters crashed Donald Trump’s rally that was scheduled to occur on the University of Illinois-Chicago campus. A majority of the protestors detested Trump’s perceivably racist viewpoints, while just across town I learned that some bars in the downtown area continue enforcement of racist rules.

As some friends and I approached the front of the line of Hopsmith bar, a bouncer told a friend that his Air Jordan sneakers were not allowed in the bar. It wasn’t because they were sneakers—I was sporting some dirty Chuck Taylor’s and another friend was rocking some equally dirty Adidas kicks.

Those shoes were fine, as the only shoes not allowed after 9 p.m. are Air Jordans, Nike Air Force Ones and Timberlands—basically the three popular shoe brands in the black community. The bar claimed the rule was part of their dress code, as they like to keep the place at a certain level of class.

So, Hopsmith, let me get this straight. My dirty, $40 Chucks are classy enough for your place, but my friend’s spick-and-span, $200, top of the line Jordan’s aren’t?

You’ll convince me dinosaurs still roam the earth before you convince me that’s not racist.

After the bouncers told us that every bar on the street would also tell my friend he couldn’t get in (which was obviously false, the kid lives right down the street and knows the bars), we decided to head 10 feet north to The Lodge and see if these clowns were right.

The conversation began innocently, with us asking the bouncer if our friend could get in with his Jordans. The bouncer replied, “Yeah, you would be okay with those.”

After we explained why we had caused a mini-scene in front of his neighbor, the bouncer agreed with the previous goons, saying, “Well, we have to try and keep a certain demographic out.”
Seriously. That happened. In 2016. In one of the most racially diverse cities in the world.

I won’t get on my soap box and proclaim that we must stop racism. Different people have different beliefs. I accept that.

What I don’t accept is the fact that businesses think it is acceptable to cover up racism with lame rules of no merit.

If you really want to only bring in white people, just make a sign that says “no blacks allowed.” I’m sure you’ll have hipster tools flocking to your bar by the dozen.

The best part of this experience is that a couple hours later, we had an intoxicated encounter with a really cool black dude directly across the street from the racist bars who was rocking some light-up sneakers. These were not the old LA Gear’s that lit up when you stepped that you had as a young lad either–they stayed lit at all times.

We should have asked the bouncers if his shoes were allowed.

Fittingly, light-up-shoes guy took us with him to a bar two doors down from the racist ones, where my three friends and I made up roughly a third of the white population.

Thankfully, I was allowed in there with the whitest shoes of all time, my trusty Chuck Taylors.