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From Jim Crow To Dress Code

How Bars & Clubs Use Dress Codes To Keep Out Young Black Men

Between 1876 and 1965 the United States of America lived by some repugnant and nasty laws called Jim Crow Laws. These laws mandated racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern States of the former Confederacy. In other words, if you were black and in the south between 1876 and 1965, you weren’t permitted in any establishments that were deemed “White Only” by ownership. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights act of 1964 that Jim Crow Laws were banned in the United States, but contemporary establishments have found a cynically creative way to make Jim Crow laws a modern day issue that gets swept under the rug every single day of every single weekend that we decide to party here, or have a drink there. They call it the “Dress Code.”

We see the signs in windows all over the country.


No Knit Hats

No Hoodies

No Timberlands

No Du Rags

No Bandanas

No Baggy Clothes

No Sports Jersey’s

No Skull Caps

Bars, restaurants, and night clubs all over the country create dress codes to keep unwanted people out of their establishments. These unwanted people are young black men who, without any fault of their own, are being discriminated against because of the clothes they choose to put on their backs. Even though we know it’s not just young black men who wear knitted hats or Timberlands, the perception is if you want to keep the young black man away from your store, bar, or nightclub, ban the articles of clothing we see them wearing.

A college bar in Madison, Wisconsin was recently called out by Lisa Wade, a guest contributor for She talked about an experience she had at a bar called Brothers Bar, when she took a glance at their dress code and was appalled. They used symbolic codes to warn especially Black members of the non-college community that they’re not welcome: no crooked hats, no skullcaps, headbands, or bandanas, and no sports jerseys.

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