Black union slams bar

Jen Delgado and George Sweeney - The Daily Iowan

Thursday, December 6, 2007

IOWA CITY, IA - The UI Black Student Union plans to boycott one downtown bar because of pictures they deemed offensive on the establishment's website.

Brothers Bar & Grill, 125 S. Dubuque St., posted photos in a gallery dated Oct. 26 and 27, the weekend before Halloween. One picture shows three bar patrons wearing Chicago Bull jerseys, two of them in blackface. A second picture depicts another man, also in blackface, wearing a ruffled, white satin shirt and a wide-brimmed zebra hat.

"What makes this such an insult is that they have a dress code that is blatantly anti-black," said Vernon Jackson, the group's president, echoing a letter addressed to the "Owner and Management" of the bar.

A small group of Black Student Union members went to Brothers to deliver the letter Wednesday night, but no owner or manager was present to accept it.

The letter states: "You are making the statement that, despite having a dress code that prohibits white T-shirts, sports jerseys (such as those being worn in one of the pictures), bandanas, do-rags, baggy clothes, and large or flashy jewelry … it is apparently acceptable for white students to think that it is funny and creative to don brown or black paint on their body, exaggerating their features to stereotypically reflect those of black people.

"Brothers' dress code mandates that hats worn be either straight forward or backwards, and loose neck jewelry must be tucked in. No "flat-brimmed hats," "wave-caps/headbands," or "bandanas" are allowed. "Athletics jerseys (except collared jerseys)" and "exposed men's underwear" are also prohibited. It also states that "home and away jerseys are allowed on game day."

At the bottom of the list, it also says that any clothing or jewelry that poses a safety risk to customers or employees is also not permitted and that modifying a wardrobe at the time of entry to meet the dress code is also not allowed.

In the letter, the group also asked for a public apology and the removal of the pictures from the website. The letter also stated that the group was outraged people dressed offensively would be allowed into the bar, even if it was Halloween.

"The images are highly offensive and extremely insensitive and show that racial issues are relevant and prevalent in Iowa City," said UI student and Black Student Union member Courtney Parker.

Parker also said the letter did not call for Brothers to abandon the dress code, because it's not the only establishment with a code the members of the Black Student Union feel to be unfair. Jackson said other Iowa City bars have similar rules, naming 3rd Base, 111 E. College St., and the Summit Restaurant & Bar, 10 S. Clinton St.

The group will discuss this issue at a regularly scheduled meeting Thursday night along with a petition asking for community support.

Keisha Stubbs, a black UI student not involved with the Black Student Union, said she was "offended and shocked" by the bar's displaying the photos on its website. "People say 'racist' is a harsh term, but it is what it is - you can't sugarcoat it," she said. "What's right is right, and what's wrong is wrong.

"Marc and Ronald Fortney, two of the bar's owners, were not available for comment before press time.Mike Porter, the owner of the Summit, declined to comment on whether the dress code at his establishment was prejudiced.No one from 3rd Base was available for comment.


Chill Out And Grill Out Success!

I hope everyone had a good time at the Chill Out and Grill Out today. The turn out was HUGE and it is safe to say that it was a great success. I hope that everyone is very enthusiastic throughout the year because we've got more opportunities and events coming around this semester. I've uploaded pictures from Sunday and Tuesday's events on Facebook. Check them out. if your in these pics, be sure to TAG them. Make it a goal to know who everyone in BSU is this year. The brochure's come out today outling this years plans. Check them out. If you need to get a hold of one, contact anyone on the BSU Exec board. I hope the first week of classes went well for everyone.


-Harrison Wheeler

Public Relations