evening of June 2, 2011, despite several instances of both explicit and
implicit discrimination on the part of Epicenter staff over the
years, I decided to join hundreds of Charlotteans in the weekly "Alive
After Five" revelry at the Epicenter- "Where Charlotte Nightlife Begins."
few minutes, supporting the bar, speaking to friends, I was approached on the
top floor of the Epicenter by “Pavilion Security” and instructed to “turn my
hat to the front.” A paying customer, I reserved the personal right to wear my
hat in whatever fashion I chose. Upon informing the guard of this I was
approached by two uniformed Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department officers.
“Is there a problem?”
“No problem at all. I'm a paid patron on my
first drink. I'm not loud. I'm not disorderly. I'm enjoying the band.”
“You're not following the 'dress code.'”
“There is no 'dress code' posted, and I'm
dressed for the weather- like the hundreds of other people out here...if not
At this point,
I was handcuffed, carried out of the Epicenter, taken to County
Jail...and charged with second degree trespassing. My day in court is pending.
As I sat
in my downtown holding cell until 3 am, I began to recount the numerous
“unequal interactions” I had experienced at the doors of many of Charlotte's
“premier” club venues. From the phantom “dress codes” to the mystery “private
parties,” one theme rang crystal clear: they don't want us in their
understand standards. I am a fan of true, genuine, equitable, published
challenge one of you to recall a fully favorable evening
at Butter, Suite, Whiskey River, Cosmos, Mez, Black Finn, Wet Willie's etc. One
that didn't begin with “Do you think we can get in tonight?” An evening that
wasn't spent arguing with a bouncer about the legitimacy of a private party as
droves of people cruise through the door in front of you. An evening that
didn't begin or end in embarrassment, discrimination, or disappointment. I
would love to be proven wrong. My inbox is open.
opening in 2008, I've heard a litany of complaints from ALL races about the
treatment of paying customers at the many venues of the Epicenter, and
it is perpetuated at all levels: from bouncer to bartender; from server to
security. You can see it quite clearly: they don't want you in their
establishment. Your money is accepted. Your presence is tolerated.
So why do we do it? Are we that desperate
for a good time that we must continuously spend our hard earned money with
people that would rather embarrass, scoff at, and arrest us? Do you not care?
Are you not aware? Do you believe that your money will buy you acceptance?
Would you take treatment like this from a spouse? A friend? For years?
If their door policies are any indication,
your money means nothing to them. It never has. But, in this viral world we
live in, reputation is everything. I am asking for you to join me in voicing
your discontent. Before you put on that outfit and take that ATM card out, I implore
you to take a second to think about the instances of inequality that you and
yours have endured and obviously overlooked. I know I'm not alone. Inbox me
your stories. This will change. Soon. I am making it my mission that they hear
us, and feel it where it hurts.