The Collegian
Monday, August 15, 2022

Black people and baggy jeans: racial profiling at Tiki Bob's Cantina

Last weekend I went downtown with a group of friends with the intention of going clubbing. Because of a plethora of club rules, we didn't get into any of the clubs we visited, and the night was a bust. I understand why such rules must be implemented in clubs; after all, loud music, scantily dressed women and drunken men can be a lethal combination. But, on this particular night, the alleged "rules" were not applied to everyone. Last weekend, I was a witness to racial profiling during my first (and last) experience at Tiki Bob's Cantina down in Shockoe Bottom.

On the night of Friday, Nov. 13, a few friends and I decided to go downtown and check out the club scene. Our first stop was Have a Nice Day Cafe. Unfortunately, we could not all get in, because the club would not accept my friend's SpiderCard for identification. This boggles me, because Have a Nice Day is infamous for its College Night on Wednesdays, when a student ID gets you in for free.

It all went downhill from there. Despite the 30 minutes we wasted waiting in line at Have a Nice Day in the semi-arctic weather that Tropical Depression Ida had brought, we decided to try one more club, specifically, a club that would accept a college ID.

Tiki Bob's is a few blocks down from where we were, so we pressed our luck. The line was short and moving rather quickly. We were looking forward to the warmth and the dance floor. We read the rules posted by the door while we waited in line, and discovered that sleeveless shirts weren't allowed. I thought to myself, "NOT AGAIN!" while glancing at one of my friends, who was wearing a tube top.

We reached the door and found out that this was not a problem! She was let in, but my other friend, who was behind me in line, was not let into the club, because of what the bouncer deemed to be "baggy jeans." The bouncer then proceeded to let in two men who were behind my friend, whose jeans looked just as baggy as my friend's who was denied entrance. Cold, agitated and pissed off, I asked the bouncer, "How was he not let in, when you let in the two men behind him with jeans just as baggy?" He gave me a dirty look and barely said a word in response.

After I thoroughly told off the bouncer, I began to examine the surroundings and the dynamics of the situation. My one friend, who violated the rule prohibiting sleeveless shirts, was let in, but my other friend, who allegedly violated a similar dress code rule, was rudely denied entrance into the club; but, the other men behind him with similar jeans were let in.

I soon realized the situation was pretty black and white, literally. My friend who had the sleeveless shirt and the men with the baggy jeans were Caucasian. My friend who was wearing a similar pair of jeans and was denied entrance was African-American.

I contacted Tiki Bob's twice for a statement. On Monday, I spoke with a manager, who told me to call on Tuesday to speak with the "general manager." On Tuesday, another manager told me to "call back later," and when I asked for a specific time, he responded "later," before he hung up on me.

Call it whatever you like, but I am quite certain this was yet another instance of racial profiling. But there is some good news for all the Caucasian patrons of Tiki Bob's - the rules do not apply to you! You've heard right, don't even read them, it's a waste of time! Why even consider these rules when Tiki Bob's will let you in, no matter what? Your first-class citizenship, which was legally outlawed decades ago, has been reinstituted at Tiki Bob's. Congratulations.

To the African-Americans, and other minority patrons who have been discriminated against -- this is a matter of formality, right? We are all dangerous and always up to no good, so we deserve discrimination. I mean, it's the only way to protect the patrons of Tiki Bob's. We are all loud, reckless and sloppy - who wants this kind of atmosphere at their club? We might as well not "follow" these rules, because even if we try to prove ourselves, it won't make any difference, because we are all the same.

All of the ridiculous assumptions I just stated are stigmas, and apparently, implicit rules of Tiki Bob's. So next time you decide to go out, don't worry so much about club rules and regulations. Take a look in the mirror and keep what you see in mind, because at the end of night, it's all black and white.

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