Racism vs. Branding 

Good day to you good folks. Good Day to the bums as well.

Sooo… I have been planning a series of events aimed towards the social scene here in Cleveland. I used to go to a monthly day party when I was in college in Cincinnati and every. single. month. it was the best partying experience until the next one came around. I thought it would be a great idea to bring that to Cleveland because there isn’t one specific event that people look forward to as far as partying at a club…. They just like to go to whatever seems like it might be poppin..

In the throws of planning, I decided to reach out to a few of my friends who are known around the city for promoting and planning parties and whose events I’d gone to myself, for feedback. One person particularly (with a discouraging tone) gave me advice I didn’t receive well (nor did I want to even hear it). During our discussion, different venues were being thrown around. This I didn’t have a problem with because the venue I planned to secure was not my end-all-be-all; I was scoping other venues anyway. A Vegas styled club called FWD (forward) was mentioned (I reached out to inquire about securing that venue) and my friend met it with skepticism. This friend, who has several years of promoting in the area told me,

“Basically what I’m saying is FWD is racist as fuck lol they don’t want too many  niggas in they club. FWD don’t want mixed [crowds] that’s why they have the strict ass dress code”

THIS GAVE ME PAUSE… I’ve been to FWD. I like FWD. I don’t think they’re racists…

And this comes one day after The Shade Room (@theshaderoom) posted a screen-shot conversation between a promoter for the club 1Oak Los Angeles, and a Bad Girl’s Club cast member’s friend. (see below:)


Now that you’ve seen that, lemme express my thoughts:

My immediate reaction upon reading the first post, was like “eewww… *deep sigh*”.. because I didn’t see it as a disgusting remark aimed at my black sistas, I actually saw a promoter trying to do his job with tacky execution (BARE. WITH ME)… and I started thinking back to when I went to that exact club. There were both white and black women… and MEN for that matter.. and as a matter of fact, I saw more people who weren’t even American than anything (accent and all). Then I saw the second post and thought “mmmmm”. It confirms my thoughts.

Now, I know what it initially looks like, but what if, in racists situations we can honestly say and mean: Its Not what it looks like.

The promoter for 1Oak was not wrong in what he did but in how he did it. To people who are unfamiliar with event planning (or thirsty for racism), this does look like an attack on black women and it does look like discrimination. HOWEVER, (sorry but yes I am defending the promoter), it also looks like this promoter was trying to do what he was supposed to do: promote the club and fill it with people. This is an issue because he refers to a specific group of people, “black girls”. But hear me out, I honestly do not believe that this young gent is racists, prejudiced, or has a problem with anyone. I don’t know him personally but I know the nature of event promotion and branding.  It is more than possible that the promoter was following orders from whoever writes his checks; whether that is true or not, the goal is branding. Lemme explain.

There is a bar in Ohio City called Town Hall. One of my former coworkers got hired there. He’s Italian and native-american and looks very much white american. He gave me some insight into this establishment and their hiring practices. He told me that the owner does not like to hire black people. My immediate response was disgust before I let him finish explaining. He stated that they dont like to hire black people because of the look of the brand and the bar itself. Given the look of the venue (rustic, wood everywhere, worn furniture, low lantern lights, thick wood tables, western vibe, etc) this makes sense. The employees all wear plaid flannels, jeans, and converse (or something similar). ..do you see where I’m going with this? Whenever I’m in Town Hall, I don’t remember my server’s name because they all look the same with the exception of brunette versus blonde or ponytail versus down. They hire these clones for a reason, they want a certain look. Lets take race out of the equation for a second. .. This same establishment only hires men in the kitchen or back of house positions. All men on the staff work in the kitchen where no one sees you. All of the women work in the front as servers, hostesses, and bartenders… Yet again, to contribute to an overall look and feel of the establishment. It sounds crazy and racists and sexists and all other -ists but it is the nature of the beast. The owner is catering to what he knows his customers wants. Similar to what the 1Oak promoter was trying to do.

Still not convinced? Hm. Ok. I got something else for that ass. Lets address the differences in the partying crowds in Cleveland. I cant 100% speak to the party scene in other cities but I can tell you what I do know here and I’m sure there is some overlap. Don’t get it twisted though, I have been to clubs out of state and had similar experiences.

BLACK CLUBS: Tend to get shot up sooner or later

WHITE CLUBS: tend to have drunk accidents happen (i.e. falling off a balcony)

BLACK CLUBS: tend to play more music that would be considered “Ratchet

WHITE CLUBS: tend to play house music

BLACK CLUBS: usually dont last more than a few years at most

WHITE CLUBS: tend to last decades (Liquid on W. 6th St. has been open and running for 60 years… 60 FRIGGIN YEARS! and there’s always a gaggle of black people in there for happy hour and I’d say its about half & half once the night party sets in)

BLACK CLUBS: tend to stock heavier with Congac, Champagne, Tequilas and bottled beers (Hennessy, Courvoisier, Cristal, Avion, Deleon, Heineken, Bud Lite)

WHITE CLUBS: tend to stock heavier with Vodka, Bourbon, Whisky, and micro-brew beers (Ketel One, Choppin, Bulliet, Makers Mark, Great Lakes Brewery)

BLACK CLUBS: a larger percentage of people are standing around or on their phones

WHITE CLUBS: a larger percentage of people are moving around and dancing

….and I can go on and on (feel free to add your own observations in the comments)

I’m painting an image of what these clubs look like and the picture looks very different. So with that being said, wouldn’t it make sense that as a business owner you’d want to have certain measures in place to deter certain people from wanting to come to your establishment? People who might bring the wrong crowd or the wrong attention? People who might damage the brand you are tying to or already have established? More importantly, wouldn’t you want those same provisions to draw in your desired crowd? To help build your brand and reputation? To increase the loyalty of your patrons and your bottom-line?

Makes sense to me.

Lastly, before my pro-black, anti- white american, friends take one last stab at biting my head off, let me just say, go right ahead; but you’re a part of the problem, not the solution. Unless your money is in a black bank, you shop at a black owned grocery store that only carries black farmed products, and load them into your car that was designed and created by a black man, and drive to only black owned salons, black owned barbershops, and black owned restaurants, then go home to your house built on black owned land by a black owned construction company with all of your fine furniture from a black owned company crafted by black carpenters while wearing your clothes from a black owned clothing line and black owned shoes that you use to walk over to the mirror to gaze at your virgin black tresses, YOU CAN MISS ME WITH THE PRO-BLACK BUBBLY BULLSHIT BECAUSE YOU’RE REALLY NOT AS BLACK AS YOU THINK YOU ARE.

Everything isn’t about race. Black people need to look at the bigger picture for somethings. Are we getting discriminated against? Are we getting shot down like dogs in the street? Are we disproportionately incarcerated? Are there people out there that want to be us so bad they hate us? Yes. To all of that. But that ain’t ALL white people and that’s not every adverse situation you encounter. WE HURT OUR OWN PEOPLE MORE OFTEN AND WORSE THAN WHAT WHITE PEOPLE DO TO US. FACT! We have to STOP taking everything that could possibly be twisted into a potential insult to our race and culture and magnifying it. Its unnecessary. Similar to the BGC cast member’s friend and 1Oak Promoter. He handled that situation poorly but its hard for me to believe that he or any other representative of 1Oak is racists or discriminates against black people or black women; he was trying to preserve the “preferred appeal” of the club by making the request. Don’t you have preferences?

This wasn’t about black people, it was about branding.

*Deep Sigh of Relief* Whew. Like. Comment. Follow.

-Until Next Time