Your Lying Eyes

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21 April 2005

Big Easy Bars a Little Hard on Blacks

New Orleans is about the most integrated, non-race conscious place I've ever been, at least in the bars, where a continuous we-are-the-world party atmosphere seems to prevail at every stop. So I was a bit shocked to see this accusation. Apparently a "study" (the disdainful quotes are used because I could not find a link to the study itself that explained its methodology, so I have my doubts) found discriminatory behavior in bars. The most common cited violation according to the study was charging black patrons more for drinks (40% of bars). Only 10% of bars were more insistent on reminding black patrons of drink limits, while 7% of bars were more insistent on enforcing dress codes.
These hardly sound like shocking figures. Even the charging more for drinks, assuming the study is reliable, is probably due to blacks tending to drink less than whites and so the bars might be trying to get a little more per drink (not that there's nothing wrong with that). This is discrimination, but hardly rises to the level of racism. The most amusing part is that one of the recommendations is to set up sensitivity workshops for bartenders. That would be an amusing scene to witness. There's also the usual dose of hyperbole and hysteria ("This is 2005, not 1964!" intoned one opportunist).
The real shame is that this study was apparently inspired by the tragic death a couple months ago in a Bourbon Street bar of a patron, who was black, at the hands of bouncers. But you certainly don't need to be the victim of racism to be the tragic victim of a bouncer - bouncers kill all kinds of people all over the world.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone living in the area, there does seem to be some incidental, observable evidence that black patrons, unless known sports or celebrity figures, are treated less than with complete civility in many of the "mainstream' New Orleans nightspots due to the interest of these establishments in attracting the more frequent and affluent (at least for the weekend) white folks from middle America who don't want to share a dance floor or bar with "those people". While New Orleans has, as a city, come a long way in the civil rights area, either dragged or by choice (Orleans Parish is now majority black), the clubs are still pandering to Joe Sixpack from Little Rock or Omaha and his fat wife, who wants to get drunk and flash her tatas during the big, long, not inexpensive weekend, but not in front of a bunch of African American males (not the term they might use). The clubs are understandably receptive to this. No one (well, not no one) wants to suggest or promote segregation but the cultural clash of everyone going to New Orleans clubs and drinking alot will keep this an issue for some time. And watch out for those concrete planters outside the hotels. They can hurt!

April 24, 2005 2:31 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Perhaps, but from what I saw when I was there last fall (no pun intended), if the bars were trying to discourage black patrons, they weren't doing a particularly good job at it.

April 29, 2005 10:28 AM  

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