It is 2019 and yes, another Reveille columnist is writing about Tigerland’s history with racism. Things don’t change, they only take different forms, like how segregation was outlawed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but we still see clearly defined white and black spaces. Segregation is illegal, yet we still see establishments like those in Tigerland dress codes that read “No overly baggy clothing,” and “No long or exposed chains!”
Don’t get me wrong, this is nothing like the segregation of the past. I don’t mean to disrespect the people like my grandmother who were met with guns when attending school with white people for the first time. This is more discreet, or so these club owners think. They aren’t explicitly saying “No Blacks Allowed,” but they might as well be with these dress codes dedicated to tired stereotypes of who they think black people are.
There have been countless incidents where black people were turned away from bars in Tigerland for having dreadlocks or tattoos or wearing white shoes and earrings — all of which translates to what some white people see as “ghetto.” “Ghetto,” in my opinion, is just as much a slur as the N-word. When being confronted about the obvious racism in his bar’s dress code policy in 2016, Reggie’s owner Darin Adams said he uses it to combat crime.
“It’s the people that don’t get into the bars that are causing the problems,” He said to The Advocate.
The people, the “undesirable crowd” as he calls them, are black people. Racism is not just calling someone the N-word, it is being able to perpetuate these stereotypes and get away with it. This is very dangerous. It goes beyond letting people into a crappy bar. White people are turning people away from their establishments because of their ethnic identity under the guise of a dress code and getting away with it. It’s not just a dress code, nobody’s naive enough to believe that.
Adams defended his dress code by saying that some things shouldn’t be worn on a night out, as if Reggie’s or anything that happens there is classy by any measure.
The dress code is a way to keep black people out, period. Though these tactics are disgusting and should not be in place, it still baffles me that black people keep attending these clubs at all, no matter how few. Some black people still show up and this should stop. Anybody who claims to be a decent person should stop, also. Why go somewhere when we clearly aren’t welcomed? And how do so many white people who claim they are “woke” and allies to the cause go there and get trashed every weekend? It’s hypocritical to say the least.
The dress codes are only part of Reggie’s track record with black people. A girl’s hand was stamped with “Reggin” in 2015, a phrase club owners said means simply going to Reggie’s, but clubgoers have said something different. When you look up “reggin” on Reddit or Tigerdroppings, many who go to Reggie’s say they have never heard anyone use that term before. In 2004 on Urban Dictionary, Reggin' was described as a way to say the N-word discreetly. Though the stamp is not being used anymore for obvious reasons, the climate at Tigerland is still the same.
Reggie’s also has a large confederate flag and has served drinks in cups with the confederate flag printed on them. Using a confederate flag today is nothing but a symbol of racism. It shows support of slavery and white supremacy.
Baton Rouge is a historically racist city, especially when it comes to the University. Residents need to realize that black people are here and we are not going anywhere. We are going to go to your schools, your restaurants and maybe even your clubs. We are not going to cease to exist. Issues like these will not be ignored. We will keep calling attention to this issue as long as it persists. I don’t think people should stop going to Tigerland all together, but I challenge people to stop going until the racist atmosphere changes. That starts with us.
Olivia James is a 19-year-old mass communication freshman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.