Mother’s Bar incident should compel boycott, activism

The recent instance of racism directed at six seniors during the class trip to Chicago last weekend is a stunning reminder of the racism that still exists in our world. Two hundred members of the senior class experienced racism firsthand, when six black students were denied entry to Mother’s Nightclub Original bar due to their “baggy jeans,” even as several white students with baggier jeans were allowed in.

After being denied entry, a black student changed jeans with a white friend, who was smaller and wore the jeans even more loosely; the white student then successfully gained access to the nightclub. This quick-thinking and foolproof experiment demonstrates that the incident had an entirely racist motivation.

The next morning, hundreds of students protested down the block from the nightclub in front of their hotel. While some criticized the short duration of the protest or its location, the Senior Class Council members who organized the protest were told they could not protest in front of the nightclub without a permit, and a permit could not be obtained overnight. Additionally, students were constrained by the necessary departure of the buses returning to St. Louis. Given the circumstances, we commend this unified and quickly-organized display of student activism.

In an e-mail to the student body, Senior Class President Fernando Cutz announced a town hall forum next Monday to discuss the incident, and also indicated the Senior Class Council’s intention to work with the NAACP and Chicago-area colleges to organize a protest. We strongly support these actions, encourage students to attend the forum and commend student leaders for taking this initiative.

Because of the blatant racism of the situation, we urge the Chicago community to not let this incident be forgotten. A sizable portion of Wash. U. students are from the Chicago area, and we encourage students and their friends to refuse to patronize Mother’s Nightclub. Furthermore, each class council should inform the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Black Consumer Business Bureau of the incident and their intention to boycott this nightclub.

Finally, we take this opportunity to formally call upon organizations such as the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce to condemn Mother’s Nightclub. The business members of the Chamber of Commerce are hurt by the perception of racism in Chicago, and we compel them to denounce this recent instance of intolerance.

It was touching, on Sunday, to observe the way a community unites behind its leaders and the standards it knows to be right. In addition to the protests, many students commented on the article detailing the incident in Student Life or posted it as their Facebook status.

We find it ironic that the members of the Senior Class Council who planned the trip were among those excluded from the nightclub, demonstrating the senselessness of the racist attitudes exhibited. Hearing that well-regarded student leaders like Regis Murayi and Iboro Umani were turned away from a nightclub seems other-worldly.

But it is precisely because this incident seems other-worldly that we must not forget about it. In our world —the safe and diverse world of Wash. U.—the concept of turning someone away because of the color of their skin is blatantly wrong. This incident serves to remind us that there is a larger world outside of the insular Wash. U. community, one in which even black student leaders are subject to prejudice, one for which the operating principle is not tolerance but discrimination. We must take this event as a signal of our charge in fighting the currents of prejudice. It is our duty to recognize the undercurrents of social racism and fight against them; it is, moreover, our responsibility to fight politically against Mother’s Nightclub. We must ensure that an institution that rests judgment on the race of its would-be patrons is one that cannot continue its practices.

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