In Dallas, a would-be patron of Kung Fu Saloon encountered a situation that is becoming all too familiar for the bar chain, Eater Dallas reports. Kung Fu Saloon has locations in Austin, Houston, and Dallas, and arcade games aren't the only thing these locations have in common.
All three have had charges of racism leveled at the enforcement of their policies. Each time, it is the same story, different city.
At both the Houston and Austin chains, people of color have reported being turned away due to the seemingly subjective interpretation of the bar's dress code policy. In both instances, the dress code was applied differently to people of color waiting to get into the club, while white patrons inside the bar clearly weren't held to the same standards.
The most recent incident has the same story – but the circumstances make the racism even harder to deny. When DeAndré Upshaw attempted to enter the bar, his friends were already inside. Upshaw was turned away on Sunday afternoon, because he was wearing Converse hi-tops. According to the bouncer, “athletic shoes” were against the dress code – a policy that “changes often,” according to the bar.
What's more, Upshaw noticed that he wasn't the only person turned away. Two people of color in line behind him were also told they didn't meet the dress code, because they were wearing shorts – despite the fact that many people in the bar, including Upshaw's friends, were wearing shorts as well.
The bar claimed that this was due to the dress code policy's timing. The dress code changes after 1 PM. But this would imply that all of the patrons inside the bar who were wearing shorts or tennis shoes had been inside the bar for at least five hours, since the incident with Upshaw didn't occur until 6 PM that evening.
It is the picture taken of Upshaw and his friends who successfully got into Kung Fu Saloon, shown above, that is the most damning evidence against the chain. Upshaw is clearly wearing a similar style of clothing as his white counterparts, one of whom is actually wearing athletic shoes and shorts.
What's more, this is not an isolated incident. People of color are reporting racist implementation of the dress code policy at Kung Fu Saloon at locations in different cities and at different times. It can't be blamed on one racist employee, and the stories are so similar that begs the question: what is it about this chain's dress code policy that lends itself so easily to racism? And why, after a public outcry following each incident, hasn't the chain done anything to solve their problem?
With Upshaw, the chain may have bitten off more than it can chew. He is a marketing professional with over 13,000 followers on twitter – which probably helped his hashtag #nokungfu trend on twitter. He has expanded awareness beyond his own experience to include a video of a group of black men being refused entrance on St. Patrick's day for “not wearing socks,” and created a space on Facebook for everyone who has experienced racist implementation of the dress code policy to share their story and come together at an event scheduled for tomorrow to protest the racism at the chain. He has even uploaded a template to the event page, so supports can create images like this one to show their solidarity:
Upshaw's social media savvy has turned this incident, which could otherwise have simply been seen as an isolated event, into an opportunity for the community to speak out against racism at Kung Fu Saloon and the uptown district. The bar, on the other hand, has recycled their apology from last year's accusation of racism at their Austin location.