Tag Archives: dress codes

Racist “Color-Blind” Dress Codes

by Guest Contributor Lisa Wade, originally published at Sociological Images and Scientopia

Several years ago I took this photo of the posted dress code for Brothers Bar in Madison, Wisconsin. As an alumnus, I can tell you that the relationship between the college community and the community at large was strained, as it is in many college towns. The college community was, on average, better off economically than much of the non-college community, with greater (potential) educational achievement, and overwhelmingly white. There was less mingling between the “town” and “gown” than we might expect by random chance, and some businesses tried to attract the latter exclusively.

This was the case with Brothers Bar. Brothers sits within a block of campus, they wanted to attract the college students but push away young “townies,” as they were derogatorily called. Of course, it’s illegal to say “Poor Black people keep out,” so, instead, they use 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.

Bar Guidelines

An enterprising journalist sat outside Brothers Bar to see just how the dress code was enforced. Not “strictly,” it turned out. Continue reading