via @GeeSmalls Instagram
via @GeeSmalls Instagram

“No Hoodies. No Oversized Tank Tops or Tee Shirts. No Sweat Pants. No Sagging Pants of Excessively Baggy Clothes. No Bandanas/Dew Rags(we’ll touch on this later). No Sunglasses After Dark. No Backpacks. No oversized purses. No Slippers. No Athletic Wear. No Oversized Chins or Medallions. No Headphones. No Weapons. No Bad Attitudes. We reserved the right to refuse service to anyone.”

Those were the words posted on a sign at a popular neighborhood bar in a city known as the “city too busy to hate”, outraging many of its minority patrons. Atlanta is the city. The neighborhood: the gayborhood Midtown. Blake’s on the Park is the culprit.

Blake’s is centrally located in Midtown where majority of ATL’s LGBT multi-national community  congregate for weekly brunches, nightly parties, or the occasional cocktail. So imagine how shocked when patrons noticed one of their favorite hangouts all of sudden started implementing a dress code that excluded a certain demographic: blacks.

Outraged by the new dress code, patron(and fellow blogger) Gee Sessions-Smalls snapped a photo of the dress code sign and posted it on his multiple social media platforms causing debates whether Blake’s newly enforced dress code was blatantly racist or not.

A good friend once told me, “Our perception is our reality.”  My perception(and social media) of this dress code  is that comes across as racial profiling. This establishment doesn’t want an “urban” crowd and we reserve the right to racially profile anyone as way to keep our “nonurban” crowd safe.

Let’s be clear, the dress code describes “urban attire.” Given, the attire prohibited hasn’t been worn by black gay men, especially in Atlanta, since the last time Nelly and 50 Cent had hit songs on the radio and Missy Elliot was thin(roughly 2008-2009). However, I find it very disappointing that a gay establishment would choose to enforce a dress code that racially profiles anyone based on their attire.

As a black gay man, I am highly disappointed with Blake’s actions. A few weeks ago, we as the LGBT community were embracing the “equality, love wins, and no judgment” movement when the US Supreme gave us the right to marry nationwide. I guess for Blake’s, if you are dressed in “threatening attire,” love loses there. You have to be a “non-threatening” negro to enter their establishment.

It’s also dishearten to learn that some black gay men don’t see anything wrong with Blake’s dress code.  “I don’t want to party with thugs and gangsters. You should’ve been properly dressed and maybe you will get served faster. This isn’t a racial issue, ” were some of the comments posted by those men.

Respectfully, I disagree with their stance. Their perception is their reality. They don’t see this stereotype being used to promote fear of black people. They don’t see that this stereotype was used to kill Trayvon, Mike, Eric, Tamir, and other young black boys by white men. They see don’t a damn thing wrong with being racially profiled while patronizing at the local Korean chicken wing spot. Who am I to judge?

In response to outrage, Blake’s has issued the following statement via Facebook:

In an effort to improve the safety of our customers at Blake’s on the Park, the management team met to discuss measures that might be taken to curb the presence of unidentifiable individuals within the establishment. The primary concern was the wearing by some of hoodies and dark glasses so as to make oneself unidentifiable. When we have had to review videotape for security reasons, the perpetrators have consistently been wearing such attire. Our customers must feel safe and the banning of hoodies and dark glasses, especially at night, will be enforced.

The recent posting of a laundry list of banned dress was not developed by management of Blake’s. The dress code is a standard code adopted by many local clubs and bars. Our intention was to post an edited list to address our specific needs, but the code was prematurely posted in error prior to the appropriate edits having been made.

We apologize to anyone who was offended by the error. We welcome ALL at Blake’s, and we will continue to make efforts to ensure the safety of ALL our customers.

To the management of Blake’s, I understand you want to keep your patrons safe especially with the recent hike of crime in Midtown. However, like Donald Trump’s recent statements about Mexicans and Paula Deen’s plantation-esque weddings, I predict a backlash in your near future. Not just from the “urban” crowd you wanted to alienate, but also from the crowd you wanted to protect the “urban” crowd from. BTW, I’m sure since Atlanta Black Gay Pride and Atlanta Pride Festival is coming up in few months, your patronage maybe in danger.

What are your thoughts on the Blake’s dress code? Do believe it is racially motivated? Share your thoughts below.